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"Little Caesar" was the late Edward G. Robinson's signature role. Tracking Robinson's rise and  fall as a racketeer, in the last scene, he is hiding behind a billboard when a burst from a G-man's Tommy Gun nails him. Staggering out from behind the billboard, he falls to the ground and cries: "Mother of Mercy, can this be the end of Rico?" Three decades later, Congressional staffer G. Robert Blakely was working on the draft of landmark legislation designed to give both prosecutors and victims new weapons in the struggle against powerful racketeers. No doubt inspired by Robinson's demise in "Little Caesar" he entitled  the new law the "Racketeer  Influenced and Corrupt Organizations" law. That  is,  RICO.

On September 30, 2004, in Zito v. Leasecomm, we won a decision in the United States District Court in Manhattan that recognized the right of defrauded  consumers and small business entrepreneurs to use RICO as tool to redress the wrongs inflicted on them by Internet scammers.

In Zito, we allege, an "enterprise" consisting of a "small cap" financing company and retailers of Internet services that conspired to sell our 200 clients worthless or outrageously over-priced Internet services and then used extortionate collection practices to collect the money due.  It's explained in detail in the decision. The total number of scam victims may run to the tens of thousands.

RICO was originally designed with the outrages of Organized Crime in mind. The courts have been very strict in extending its benefits to victims of individuals who are not traditional gangsters. Zito v. Leasecomm represents a major breakthrough for consumers and others even when the alleged racketeers speak precise English and attend the best schools.

The decision only addresses the sufficiency of our allegations and indicates just how complex - and daunting - the task of fashioning a RICO complaint can be. We must now prove our case. Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, the decision finding that our complaint fairly alleges a RICO violation, is not the end, nor it is it the beginning of the end, rather,  it is the end of the beginning.
You can read the decision by clicking  here

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