Two more plea deals in the Mongols case were published yesterday (Friday) afternoon.
These deals tend to appear on Friday afternoons when the fewest people are looking for them. Like forty-one previous defendants in this case, Paul Cordova and Luis Padilla pled guilty to Count One of the Mongols indictment, which is the count that labels the Mongols Motorcycle Club a “criminal enterprise.”
Cordova was a member “of the Mongols gang” known as “Chopper.” He admitted that on December 1, 2006 he sold 246 grams of old school to one of the ATF Under Cover Agents who created this case and, further, that on February 10, 2007 he “sold approximately 493.5 grams of cocaine to a UC.”
Cordova “further agrees that these acts were related to his role as a member of the Mongols Gang and were committed in furtherance of the criminal enterprise and knowing that its members and associates, including defendant, would commit racketeering offenses, including drug trafficking. The drug trafficking and other crimes of the Mongols organization are offenses which have an effect on interstate commerce.” Or, so the plea claims.
Cordova faces a probable prison term of six years that he will serve concurrently with sentence in Colorado.
Padilla pled guilty to the same “crime” and to the two “predicate crimes” of possessing “34 grams of actual methamphetamine…as well as Mongols paraphernalia.” He faces a probable sentence of between 46 and 63 months in prison.
The Mongols case now exemplifies what law and order apostates William L. Anderson and Candice Jackson have called “The federalization of crime and the criminalization of everything.” The case also epitomizes the use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute by tyrannical prosecutors and federal police agencies to nullify the Constitution.
RICO (named for the character in the movie still above) was conceived during the late 1960s culture wars. The original intent of the law was to prohibit “racketeer infiltration of legitimate business.” In other words it was designed to prevent “the mob” from going legitimate. In 1981, in the case United States v. Turkette, the Supreme Court broadened the law by redefining the phrase “enterprise.” While the authors of the law intended “enterprise” to mean the legitimate bar or bowling alley that had been corrupted by “the mob” Turkette reinterpreted “enterprise” to mean “the mob” itself.”
For almost a decade, thoughtful people of all political persuasions were outraged by the constitutional implications of Turkette. In May 1987, the Columbia Law Review called RICO “The Crime of Being a Criminal.”
On August 16, 1989, the Los Angeles Times editorialized:
“A good law has several essential attributes: It is clear; it addresses itself to a specific and clearly defined form of illicit conduct; it prescribes a remedy or punishment proportionate to the damage done by the offense. Statutes that fail to meet these tests are enacted not in the cause of justice, but for the convenience of the state. RICO, in fact, is one of the latter.
“RICO originally was directed against the conspiratorial activities of so-called mob families. However, the law is so loosely worded that any two instances of illegal conduct within a 10-year period – even if relatively trivial – can, if they involve use of the mail or telephone, be prosecuted as a ‘pattern of racketeering activity.'”
Unfortunately, in this new and shinier millennium, news outlets no longer see themselves as guardians of freedom. News outlets now survive by whipping up hysteria over the most bizarre, distracting and telegenic crimes. News outlets now implicitly conspire with all the usual dark and sinister powers to “manage public perception.”
Bill Of Attainder
In the Mongols case, the government is clearly and irrefutably using its RICO prosecution of the motorcycle club to enforce a de facto “Bill of Attainder.”
Bills, sometimes the word is “writs,” of Attainder are specifically prohibited by Article One, Clause three of the Constitution. This prohibition appears so early in the principal American law because it was one of the “rights” for which the revolutionaries fought and died. In brief this clause – which it appears that none of the prosecutors, defense attorneys nor Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has ever read – explicitly forbids outlawing “membership” in any organization.
Even today, in what is left of this democratic republic, it is not illegal to belong to Al Qaeda, the Nazi party, the Ku Klux Klan, The Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, the Communist party or even a motorcycle club. In a case named Uphaus v Wyman in 1959, the Supreme Court called guilt by association “a thoroughly discredited doctrine.”
So it is not unreasonable to wonder out loud how “possessing Mongols paraphernalia” can be construed as one of a Luis Padilla’s “predicate crimes.”
RICO, as it has evolved, is not intended to punish what most people consider to be crimes: Which is to say actions like murder, robbery or what Roman Polanski did to that 13-year-old girl – what lawyers call malum in se. RICO is designed to punish crimes that lawyers call malum prohibitum: Which is to say actions that are illegal because they are illegal – like possessing illegal intoxicants or talking on the telephone about illegal intoxicants or smoking in a public place or having a loud and embarrassingly ugly argument with your old lady on a Saturday night.
RICO ignores malum in se, what you have always thought to be a “crime.” The predicate crimes that RICO exploits are always state crimes that until 1970 would always have been prosecuted in state courts.
There are a couple of obvious reasons for the federal prosecution of these state crimes. First, RICO allows the investigation of these local crimes by vast police bureaucracies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF.) These bureaucracies are self perpetuating and have virtually unlimited resources. All they need to persist are crimes to investigate and RICO provides that. Secondly, RICO allows federal prosecutors a legal fiction that can be used to connect what are actually, in reality, unconnected crimes into a vast, imaginary, criminal conspiracy.
Additionally, RICO prosecutors do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants actually committed the “predicate crimes” of which they are accused. State prosecutors do but RICO allows federal prosecutors to prove crimes by the civil standard which is a “preponderance of the evidence.”
So the former Mongols are being prosecuted in Federal Court under RICO.
What Does The Government Want
What is radical and new in the Mongols case, however, is the way the government is using RICO to coerce confessions.
RICO is usually the most serious “crime” with much a criminal defendant is charged. RICO usually carries a 20-year-prison sentence. So prosecutors usually trade a guilty plea to a predicate charge for the dismissal of the RICO count.
But the Mongols case turns that strategy on its head. In the current case, defendants are being rewarded for pleading guilty to racketeering. And, that raises several obvious questions. What does the government want? Why is the government trying to avoid a trial? And, what is the government hiding?
Or possibly more to the point, what is the ATF hiding?