Can A Religion Be Prosecuted Under RICO?

20 09 2008

Or a foreign equivalent? France is doing that right now.

ABC News: France On Verge Of Banning Scientology

The Church of Scientology faces trial on deletion fraud charges in Paris, with the possibility that the organization, which claims around 5,000 active members in France in addition to a bevy of Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise, could be banned in France if it loses.

While it enjoys an active presence in the U.S. — it has been recognized as a religious organization by the I.R.S. since 1993 — Scientology has faced strong opposition from French authorities.

France has refused to acknowledge Scientology as a religion, and Miviludes, the French government agency in charge of protecting its citizens from sectarian manipulations, has warned French citizens against participating.

“Scientology is a dangerous movement,” Milivudes president Jean-Michel Roulet told ABCNews.com. “It puts pressure on its victims, it tries to intimidate them and blackmails them.”

Isabelle Montagne, spokesperson with the Paris court of Justice, told ABCNews.com that if Scientology is found guilty of fraud or illegal practice of medical activities, the president of the Paris Scientology Celebrity Centre, one of the biggest centers in France, could be sentenced to seven years in prison and the organization could be forced to close its doors.

Part of the French wariness of Scientology likely stems from a culture that is skeptical of any purported religious organization that requires members to pay money, says Roulet, who says members spend up to $40,000 within their first years in Scientology.

“It is possible for members to pay that amount within a few years,” Daniele Gounord, spokesperson for Scientology in France, told ABCNews.com. “It is possible, if a member is willing to progress fast.”

“This does not fit with the French mentality,” answered Roulet. “At church you are free to give money or not. We are not used to religions in which you have to pay for everything.”

Maybe this will help our spineless US government grow a pair eh? I can dream, can I?

But can France’s laws or US laws be used against a major religion. The Church of Scientology was only formed in 1952, and even then, the religious designation is only for convenience purposes. So technically, it’s not a religion. Can RICO however, be used for a religion that has 1 billion adherents, including 1-2 million here in the US?

See THIS:

Islam is a Racketeering Organization.

The Government of the United States of America Will Eventually Bring Islamic Clerics Up Violation of The RICO Act.

What is the RICO Act?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.” RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.

When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, he or she has the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to temporarily seize a defendant’s assets and prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. This provision was placed in the law because the owners of Mafia-related shell corporations often absconded with the assets. An injunction and/or performance bond ensures that there is something to seize in the event of a guilty verdict.

In many cases, the threat of a RICO indictment can force defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges, in part because the seizure of assets would make it difficult to pay a defense attorney.

Despite its harsh provisions, a RICO-related charge is considered easy to prove in court, as it focuses on patterns of behavior as opposed to criminal acts.[2]

There is also a provision for private parties to sue. A “person damaged in his business or property” can sue one or more “racketeers.” The plaintiff must prove the existence of a “criminal enterprise.” The defendant(s) are not the enterprise; in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same. There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise. A civil RICO action, like many lawsuits based on federal law, can be filed in state or federal court. [1]

Both the federal and civil components allow for the recovery of treble damages (damages in triple the amount of actual/compensatory damages).

Although its primary intent was to deal with organized crime, Blakey said that Congress never intended it to merely apply to the Mob. He once told Time, “We don’t want one set of rules for people whose collars are blue or whose names end in vowels, and another set for those whose collars are white and have Ivy League diplomas.”[2]

RICO offenses

Under the law, racketeering activity means:

Any violation of state statutes against gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);
Any act of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering,

— commission of murder-for-hire (FATWA) —

, and several other offenses covered under the Federal criminal code (Title 18);
Embezzlement of union funds;
Bankruptcy or securities fraud;
Drug trafficking;
Money laundering and related offenses;
Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);
Acts of terrorism.

Pattern of racketeering activity requires at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity. The U.S. Supreme Court has instructed federal courts to follow the continuity plus relationship test in order to determine whether the facts of a specific case give rise to an established pattern. Predicate acts are related if they “have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission, or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events.” H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. Continuity is both a closed and open ended concept, referring to either a closed period of conduct, or to past conduct that by its nature projects into the future with a threat of repetition.

Where RICO laws might be applied

Although some of the RICO predicate acts are extortion and blackmail, one of the most successful applications of the RICO laws has been the ability to indict or sanction individuals for their behavior and actions committed against witnesses and victims in alleged retaliation or retribution for cooperating with law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Violations of the RICO laws can be alleged in cases where civil lawsuits or criminal charges are brought against individuals or corporations in retaliation for said individuals or corporations working with law enforcement, or against individuals or corporations who have sued or filed criminal charges against a defendant.

Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) laws can be applied in an attempt to curb alleged abuses of the legal system by individuals or corporations who utilize the courts as a weapon to retaliate against whistle blowers, victims, or to silence another’s speech. RICO could be alleged if it can be shown that lawyers and/or their clients conspired and collaborated to concoct fictitious legal complaints solely in retribution and retaliation for themselves having been brought before the courts.

Here’s my answer to the question Can A Religion Be Prosecuted Under RICO:

Scientology is not a religion. It is a criminal enterprise set up by L. Ron Hubbard, a failing science-fiction writer who said “I’d like to start a religion, that’s where the real money is”. So if it is prosecuted in France, or Germany, or the USA, then it will be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise. Can a whole religion be prosecuted under RICO? No, no, and hell no.

The blogger makes no distinction between the ordinary practicing Muslim minding his own business, and the fundamentalist Muslim who wants to convert the whole world to Islam either through bombs or the use of US laws. Also, Islam is not an organization like the Church of Scientology is. Now, certain Islamic organizations that aid terrorist groups or try to silence their opponents are fair game for RICO, but not the whole religion of Islam.

In the ABC article, it mentions that if the Church of Scientology is found guilty of fraud, then it could be banned. If Islam were to be banned anywhere, well then all hell would break loose. And then there is the issue of blow back. Someone could decide that, say, the Christian Reconstructionists are dangerous (and they are), so therefore all of Christianity should be prosecuted under RICO laws and then banned. Some people are deranged enough to do it.

I guess that is also what worries me a little about this potential ban of Scientology in France. Scientology is not a religion at all, but sadly, the consensus among a large number of people is that Scientology is a religion. So I worry about what kinds of aftershocks could happen if France succeeds in banning the cult.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

One response

20 09 2008
Harpoonz plx: Sci, Rad Islam, and RICO - Enturbulation.org | Scientology Critic & Activism Forum

[…] Harpoonz plx: Sci, Rad Islam, and RICO Here is my response: Can A Religion Be Prosecuted Under RICO? Number 6-Anonymous Warrior __________________ My new YouTube channel: […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: