There’s lots of talk in media, both conventional news and social media, on the subject of whether Donald Tokowitz Sterling can be forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers and if so, how much he will profit from the sale. There’s no reason why the Clippers should be sold nor is there any reason why he has to profit from a sale: if the powers that be had the gonads they could RICO Sterling and get a court ordered forfeiture of every last penny he owns. Of course I’ll truly be shocked if anybody in the government has the gonads to do what should be done because that kind of justice is never meted out to the rich.
18 USC 1962(a), part of the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) says in pertinent part:
It shall be unlawful for any person who has received any income derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt in which such person has participated as a principal within the meaning of section 2, title 18, United States Code, to use or invest, directly or indirectly, any part of such income, or the proceeds of such income, in acquisition of any interest in, or the establishment or operation of, any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.
What is a “pattern of racketeering activity?” 18 USC 1961 identifies a whole slew of federal and state laws that when broken constitute such a pattern and all you need is two (2) or more violations to meet the legal definition. One of those laws is mail fraud (18 USC 1341), which states:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
Now for background, read my last blog on the subject of Donald Sterling and pay special attention to his Beverly Hills Properties behavior in trying to unlawfully evict tenants from rent-controlled apartments in Santa Monica: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2014/04/27/happy-birthday-donald-tokowitz-sterling-you-jewish-oreo/
There’s absolutely no way that you can conduct the kind of operation described in Sterling’s Santa Monica apartments without engaging in mail fraud, not to mention that if Beverly Hills Properties ever used email or a fax machine to carry out its scheme then 18 USC 1343 (wire fraud) also comes into play, without devising “….any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises….” Believe me, I’ve done criminal defense and criminal offense on these kind of cases and it’s virtually impossible to carry this kind of scheme out without falling afoul of one or the other or both of these laws, both of which are “RICO predicate acts” which trigger the RICO law. There are also plenty of other RICO predicate acts listed in 18 USC 1961 which are hard to avoid violating when pulling these kinds of stunts.
So, how should the government proceed:
1. The City of Los Angeles should have the Department of Building & Safety and the City Housing Department go door to door in every single one of Beverly Hills Properties managed apartments and distribute a leaflet to the tenants asking them if they want to blow the whistle on any potential violation and in follow up investigations find out if they ever got a letter by US Mail, an email, or any other wire communication from the company that was false or contained falsehoods.
2. The City of Santa Monica should review its existing investigative files to determine whether anything they already uncovered constitutes a RICO predicate act.
3. The U.S. Department of Justice and the private attorneys that previously sued Sterling’s businesses should review their files for RICO predicate acts.
4. The U.S. Department of Justice should file either a criminal RICO action or a civil RICO action if they find sufficient (like, two or more) RICO predicate acts and under 18 USC 1963(b) order forfeiture of all of his property derived from RICO activity or derived from money invested from RICO activity (like everything he owns) or order divestiture of his property under 18 USC 1964(a).
Our elected representatives have an opportunity to prove that the laws of the United States of America apply to billionaires with this scenario or in the alternative that they lack gonads.