Republicans in Georgia State Senate Want to Expand RICO Law Used Against President Trump, Rapper Young Thug, ‘Stop Cop City’ Protesters

John Albers

A total of 10 Republicans in the Georgia State Senate are now sponsors of SB 359, originally filed by State Senator John Albers (R-Alpharetta), which would expand Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to allow misdemeanor crimes to be included in RICO cases.

The bill would also allow enhanced sentences to be considered in RICO cases based on a defendant’s political affiliations or beliefs.

According to its legislative summary, the law seeks to amend the Georgia RICO Act’s definition of “pattern of racketeering activity” to include “felonies and certain misdemeanors which meet the criteria for the imposition of enhanced penalties” in sentencing.

Specific actions or crimes that the bill seeks to make prosecutable under Georgia’s RICO law include in the bill: misdemeanor battery, criminal trespass, littering, placing “posters, signs, and advertisements in violation” of Georgia law, disorderly or disruptive conduct, misdemeanor terrorist threats, and harassing communications.

In addition to existing law that allows for harsher sentences to be applied if a victim is selected based on “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.” Also, the bill would amend the law to allow criminals who were determined, as the result of a RICO case, to have been inspired to break the law because of the intended victims’ “political affiliation or beliefs.”

Upon conviction, such criminals would be sentenced to serve at least two years in a Georgia prison. The bill would also change the law to require defendants to pay a fine of at least $5,000.

Albers (pictured above) reportedly told judiciary committee members last week the legislation is “fairly simple in its desire to make sure that people who are committing these heinous acts are being held accountable for their crimes.”

Though his legislation has support from nine other Republicans, Axios reported that State Senator Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) expressed interest in tweaking the legislation to protect “people handing out political leaflets” from running afoul of the legislation.

Already unlikely to receive support from Democrats, the outlet reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia also formally opposes the bill.

Three high-profile RICO cases are currently underway in Georgia. These include the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis against former President Donald Trump and those who helped him contest the 2020 election, the case Willis brought against rapper Young Thug and his Young Slime Life associates, and the case Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr brought against 61 activists accused of racketeering to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

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Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Georgia Star News, The Virginia Star, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].




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