GET NEW LIFE WITH RICO
"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"
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
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
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
v. Leasecomm represents a
breakthrough for consumers and others even when the alleged racketeers
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