Report: Justice Department May File Mafia-Inspired RICO Charges Against Capitol Rioters

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether to charge rioters involved in the storming of the U.S. Capitol under a federal law generally reserved for cases against organized crime, according to two law enforcement sources, as reported by Reuters.

We’re talking “Godfather” charges.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, allows criminal prosecution and civil penalties, including up to 20 years in prison, hefty fines, and seizure of assets obtained illegally through a criminal enterprise.

Two law enforcement sources – one currently working in the administration and one recently separated from the federal government — confirmed the story to Reuters.

As reported by Reuters, the former federal official said “It is not yet clear if cases arising from it meet ‘statutory elements’ necessary for a RICO charge,” adding: “This is something that is being mulled over in the halls of DOJ.”

Here’s more, via Reuters:

Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Mastropasqua declined to comment about the potential use of the RICO statute beyond pointing to prior statements by the senior federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, that he would charge people based on what the evidence showed.

Sherwin has said a wide range of criminal charges are being contemplated, including trespassing, assault, and seditious conspiracy.

The RICO law was crafted to help prosecutors convict top Mafia leaders who ordered others to commit crimes. RICO cases are complex, often take years to develop, and require approval from Justice Department leadership.

Jeffrey Grell, an attorney who specializes in RICO law, appeared surprised that RICO was under consideration, as quoted by Reuters.

“RICO was designed to address the Godfather — the person who doesn’t get their hands bloody. You would really only use RICO to go after the kingpins or the leaders.”

The DOJ has so far charged more than 170 people in connection with the Capitol attack, and other suspects are being sought, including a suspect who planted two separate pipe bombs near the Democrat and Republican headquarters in D.C. the night before the attack.

As tweeted by a certain former rock star, the FBI is now offering up to $100,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the pipebomb suspect.

As if RICO charges wouldn’t be heavy enough, at least two former intelligence officers have suggested that lessons learned fighting the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda should be used to fight “domestic extremists.”

As our friends over at Twitchy previously reported, Susan Gordon, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, suggested the U.S. should think about a “9/11 Commission” for domestic terrorism, during an appearance on PBS NewsHour.

In addition, former CIA case officer and Army Lt. Col. Kevin Carroll, writing in a Washington Examiner op-ed, said the DOJ should throw the proverbial book at as many participants in the Capitol riot as possible — and a heavy book at that.

“Bring the heaviest felony charges possible on as many participants in the insurrection as the Justice Department can identify and believes it can confidently convict.

“We ruthlessly hunted down foreign terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and must do the same to their domestic equivalents. Further prosecution is possible under the federal felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm statute.”

“Ruthlessly hunted down” foreign terrorists” after 9/11 and “hunting down” “overzealous” participants in the storming of the Capitol not only seems like apples and oranges but also like, oh — on two different planets, does it not?

Townhall senior columnist Kurt Schlichter not only believes such talk is crazy, but he’s also not a fan of the current state of the Army or the CIA.

Once again, the question needs to be asked: Where were these people during month after month of real rioting?