Now that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has indicted the Trump Organization and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, it’s clearer than ever that the justice system is starting to catch up with Donald Trump and those associated with him.
And now there’s a new twist to the case against Trump, with legal experts saying that Vance’s office may be planning to file state racketeering charges against the Trump Organization, which would give them more leverage over potential witnesses and also lead to greater penalties for those who are convicted, Politico reports:
“Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance could be considering a criminal charge that former President Donald Trump’s business empire was a corrupt enterprise under a New York law resembling the federal racketeering statute known as RICO, former prosecutors and defense attorneys said.
New York’s enterprise corruption statute — which carries the potential for severe penalties — can be applied to money-making businesses alleged to have repeatedly engaged in criminal activity as a way to boost their bottom line.”
New York’s organized corruption statute, which is often referred to as “little RICO,” can be used if there are as few as three crimes involving a business located in the Empire State and carries a prison term of up to 25 years, which would be a death sentence for Donald Trump, who turns 75 next month.
Manhattan defense attorney Robert Anello said he’s certain Vance is considering bringing charges under the New York RICO law:
Anello’s comments were echoed by Michael Shapiro, who used to prosecute corruption cases in New York:
The crimes the former president’s company is suspected of having committed include submitting inflated real estate valuations to banks and insurance companies while reporting those same properties as undervalued when it came time to pay taxes. There have also been rumors that Trump may have used his corporation to launder ill-gotten funds from organized crime outfits in the United States and Russia.
Also under investigation by the Manhattan DA’s office are the hush money payments made during the 2016 campaign to two women who had sexual encounters with Trump and were paid in order to remain silent. Those payoffs, according to legal experts, may well violate New York laws against making false statements as part of a company’s business records.
As for the newly formed grand jury, attorneys say it is almost certain to go along with whatever charges Vance is seeking against Trump and his company, with Shapiro noting:
In other words, the likelihood that Trump and others in his orbit are going to be indicted is all but certain.