Archive | RICO

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The Dismantling of the Holder Memo Begins

It looks like the work of dismantling the progress made under the Holder memo has begun.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo directing US Attorneys to work with local law enforcement to identify the ‘criminals’ in their districts who are driving violent crime and prosecute them federally using all available tools. You can read the memo here. An additional memo on charging decisions in all criminal cases will follow.…


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Categories: 922(g), 924(c), Hobbs Act, RICO

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Cain is Able

United States v. Cain, 09-0707-cr (2d Cir. January 31, 2012) (Newman, Lynch, CJJ, Restani, JCIT)

This is a case, oddly enough, about trees. Appellant David Cain, Jr., proprietor of David’s Tree Service, assisted by his brother, Chris Cain, a cousin, Jamie Soha, and others, was trying to corner the tree service and logging market in northwestern New York State. To get there, they engaged in acts of violence, extortion and even arson, and were convicted of substantive and conspiracy RICO counts and of other, related crimes.

All convictions were affirmed except for Chris Cain’s on the RICO counts. The circuit found that the district court’s “pattern” instruction was erroneous and, as to Chris Cain, the error, although not flagged below, was plain.

The RICO statute requires proof of a “pattern of racketeering activity” – at least two acts, the last of which occurred within ten years after the commission of …


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Categories: pattern requirement, plain error, RICO, Uncategorized

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Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Racket Club

United States v. Applins, No. 07-2193-cr (2d Cir. March 1, 2011) (Miner, Sack, Hall, CJJ)

This decision closes a hole in the Second Circuit’s RICO jurisprudence. The appellants, drug dealers who were members of something called the Elk Block gang, were convicted of RICO conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) in the Northern District of New York. The trial judge gave confusing jury instructions as to whether, for RICO conspiracy, the existence of an enterprise was an element of the offense.

The defendants pursued this issue on appeal, and the circuit affirmed, holding that “the establishment of an enterprise is not an element of the RICO conspiracy offense.” In a footnote, the court brushed aside its past decisions that seemed to suggest otherwise, deeming the relevant language “dicta.”…


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Categories: enterprise, RICO, Uncategorized

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Saturday, April 10th, 2010

The Heavy Burdens

United States v. Burden, No. 03-1727-cr (2d Cir. March 31, 2010) (Hall, Livingston, Gibson, CJJ)

From 1997 to 2001, Kelvin Burden, ran a crack cocaine ring in Norwalk, Connecticut, with the help of several of his brothers, two of whom were named David, and a few of his friends. The gang’s activities grew increasingly violent. Throughout 1998 and 1999 there were fatal encounters with members of a rival gang, the Hill Crew; also, in 1999, Burden gang members shot at two of their own, killing one and leaving the other a paraplegic.

The defendants were convicted of racketeering, drug charges and multiple VCAR counts, and received sentences ranging from eighty-eight months to life.

Their principal arguments on appeal were that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the Burden gang was an “enterprise” and that its activities constituted a “pattern.” The circuit affirmed.

First, the defendants asserted that the evidence …


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Categories: Crawford, enterprise, pattern, racketeering, RICO, Uncategorized

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Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Cap’n Crunched

United States v. Pizzonia, No. 07-4314-cr (2d Cir. August 19, 2009) (Calabresi, Straub, Raggi, CJJ)

Dominick Pizzonia, a one-time captain for the Gambino crime family, was convicted of a racketeering conspiracy and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. On appeal, he raised an unsuccessful statute of limitations claim.

The government filed the indictment against Pizzonia on May 26, 2005; since a five-year statute of limitations applied, the government had to prove that Pizzonia’s participation in the conspiracy extended past May 26, 2000.

Pizzonia’s indictment charged a broad pattern of racketeering activity encompassing the entire spectrum of Gambino malfeasance. It alleged specifically that the pattern “consisted of” seven specified predicates. The jury found that he participated in only two of them: a 1992 double-murder conspiracy and a 1994-96 gambling offense. It also concluded that these two seemingly distinct events were sufficiently related to constitute a racketeering “pattern.” Finally, although the predicates …


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Categories: RICO, statute of limitations, Uncategorized

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Saturday, September 6th, 2008

A Family Affair

United States v. Yannotti, No. 06-5571-cr (2d Cir. September 4, 2008) (Katzmann, Parker, Raggi, CJJ)

Michael Yannotti was one of several Gambino crime family members accused of multiple violent acts – including extortion, loansharking and murder. After a jury trial, he was convicted of a RICO conspiracy, although the only predicates that the jury could agree that he committed were loansharking activities that had taken place eight years or more before he was indicted. The jury did not reach a verdict on a substantive RICO count, which the district court then dismissed on the ground that the government had failed to prove that Yannotti committed any predicate within the five-year statute of limitations. But the court did not dismiss the conspiracy count and, when it sentenced him, based its findings on conduct that the jury had not agreed that the government had proven. Yannotti received twenty years in prison, the …


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Categories: 1B1.2, expert witnesses, RICO, Uncategorized, wiretaps

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