The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering charging those involved in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building under a law used to prosecute organized crime.
The federal law, known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), is typically used for racketeering cases involving murder, kidnapping, bribery, and money laundering. A current law enforcement official and a federal official who recently left their position told Reuters that the Justice Department is debating whether to use RICO against those involved in the Capitol riot.
The official said that using RICO is “something that is being mulled over in the halls of the DOJ,” according to the report. If charged under RICO, the rioters could face up to 20 years in prison. (RELATED: Two Off-Duty Cops Charged In Capitol Riots; One Allegedly Bragged He ‘Attacked The Government’)
New from @reuters: The Justice Department is looking into whether it can bring RICO cases against members of some of the far-right groups that are a focus of its investigation of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. https://t.co/cj8KAidZpf
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) February 3, 2021
Michael Sherwin, the senior federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, has said that he would charge people based on evidence and a wide range of charges were being considered. The criminal charges could include trespassing, assault and seditious conspiracy, Sherwin said according to Reuters.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.
RICO was created in 1970 to prosecute Mafia bosses who organized crimes that others were to commit. Other violent groups, including one convicted of planning to bomb the United Nations and George Washington Bridge, have been charged under RICO, Reuters reported.
“RICO was designed to address the Godfather – the person who doesn’t get their hands bloody,” attorney Jeffrey Grell, who specializes in RICO law, told the outlet. “You would really only use RICO to go after the kingpins or the leaders.”
Charging Capitol rioters under RICO would be difficult – prosecutors would have to prove that a group is a “criminal enterprise,” organized the Capitol riot and was connected to at least two additional crimes. Events like the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally could be used to prove the case.