Last week, Fulton County prosecutors dismissed criminal racketeering charges against our client, S.F., a successful small business owner in the Atlanta area. The RICO charges were dismissed after our firm filed several pretrial motions, including a motion to dismiss.
The indictment against S.F. charged him and several others with racketeering under the Georgia RICO Act. Under the Georgia RICO Act, Section 16-14-4 of the Georgia Code, it is illegal to conduct or participate in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.
While many people associate the word “racketeering” with the mafia and other criminal enterprises and organizations, prosecutors today have significantly broadened the scope of the law to prosecute common crimes under the Georgia RICO Act and charge several individuals as part of one racketeering case even if their offenses are unrelated. All a prosecutor needs to do is accuse an individual of committing two crimes within four years of each other and allege that the acts were part of a “pattern of racketeering activity.”
S.F.’s case is a great example of how the Georgia RICO Act has been stretched too broadly by prosecutors and of how an attorney with experience in RICO cases can make a significant difference in your case if you are facing racketeering charges in Georgia.
S.F. owns a waste management service in the metro Atlanta area, and, like every other waste management business, his company dumped its waste at a landfill operated by Fulton County Waste Management, Inc. Without S.F.’s knowledge, one of his employees had allegedly been bribing a Fulton County landfill employee to alter the weight of S.F.’s dump trucks in order to pay a lower dumping fee. As it turned out, this landfill employee had similar arrangements with other dumping businesses and had allegedly been accepting bribes from waste management businesses all over the metro Atlanta area.
Even though S.F. didn’t know about his employee’s actions or about this landfill employee’s other deals, S.F. was still indicted for racketeering along with his employee, the landfill employee, and several employees and owners of other waste management businesses. The “predicate acts” included theft by deception and theft of services. In other words, the prosecutors in this case were alleging that, by committing theft against Fulton County Waste Management, Inc. through the landfill employee, S.F. and each of the other defendants were all constituent parts of a racketeering enterprise, like spokes on a wheel, with the landfill employee at the center of it all.
S.F. knew he needed an experienced lawyer in RICO cases, and he reached out to retain our firm because of our experience defending against Georgia racketeering charges. Once S.F. was indicted, we filed several motions challenging law enforcement’s search of his business and requesting that the judge dismiss the indictment because the prosecutors had waited too long to charge S.F. In the end, the prosecutors dismissed the charges before the judge could rule on our motions because the prosecutors knew we would win.
Today, S.F. is still running his successful small business because he trusted our firm to get his RICO charges dismissed. Our firm is dedicated to putting our experience handling racketeering charges and other white collar crimes to work for you in your case. Call our firm to speak to one of our attorneys if you have been charged or are being investigated for racketeering or another violation of the Georgia RICO Act.