Five Chicago gangsters are facing RICO charges related to a criminal enterprise, the O-Block street gang, that murdered a Chicago rapper and committed other crimes on Chicago’s South Side. Since the gang members are charged with orchestrating a murder, they will face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
RICO Charges and Investigations
The purpose of RICO is to help prosecutors use the full extent of the law to pursue criminal charges. Prior to RICO, a prosecutor had to know which member of a criminal enterprise committed the offense. That left defense attorneys with the option of pointing the finger at other vested parties within the same organization. That vested party could point the finger at another vested party, and so on. It became impossible to get the men at the top of the conspiracy because they always worked through intermediaries. So unless you had them saying, “Hey Joe, can you please kill a rapper?” There were no legitimate means of prosecuting the shot caller.
RICO made it easier for prosecutors to charge members of an organization with all of the crimes that the organization itself is alleged to be responsible for. In this case, the gang members united to devise a plan to off a rapper. It does not matter who pulled the trigger; they all contributed to and benefited from the effort.
Are RICO Prosecutions Always This Easy?
No. RICO prosecutions can take years to build and if one thing goes wrong, then the whole effort can be lost. In this case, however, the gang had a social media marketing campaign and used rap lyrics to market their gang efforts. This included claiming responsibility for the crimes they committed, including the rappers. Prosecutors based a large part of their prosecution on the music videos and social media posts that the gang members made of Facebook and other forums. This is 21st Century gangster, folks. Every businessman knows that it is all about marketing.
However, most corporations would not, for example, write songs about how they mothballed studies on a dangerous prescription medication to avoid liability in personal injury lawsuits. Instead, they would keep that information buried well under their hat. In this case, however, the gang is marketing a lifestyle of power and violence, and wants to recruit members who will be hard enough to identify with that lifestyle. In this case, it made the prosecution’s job that much easier.
Can Rap Lyrics and Social Media Posts Really be Evidence?
That would probably depend on the rap lyrics and social media posts. If the O-Block Gang released a hit single with nebulously-worded phrases that required Proustian dedication to close reading, then the prosecution would be in a position of interpreting the songs for the jury. The prosecutor does not want to interpret lyrics for the jury. The prosecution wants the lyrics to be self-evident. If the lyrics are not self-evident, then the prosecution has to go through the process of interpreting the lyrics in a way that benefits their case. Once the defense has its say, the jury will likely not feel as strongly about the matter as the prosecution. Nonetheless, this is a crew that claimed responsibility for acts of brazen violence, so perhaps the prosecutor will not have a difficult rod ahead of them.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been rapping about your most recent murders, then chances are good that you will need an attorney. Call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing a vigorous defense immediately.