For example, the National Organization of Women unsuccessfully tried to use the RICO laws to collect damages from Operation Rescue that used protests to shut down abortion clinics. Police arrested about 65 abortion foes who blocked a back gate to the clinic as Operation Rescue prepared to wrap up a day campaign of mass demonstrations aimed at shutting down the abortion clinics in Buffalo. The application and use of the law has raised important First Amendment issues implicating the right to freedom of association. In addition, the law makes it an offense to conspire to engage in any of the above activities. Actions defined as racketeering under RICO include extortion, violation of the Hobbs Act of , and other crimes that may interfere with interstate commerce.
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Prior to RICO, prosecutors could only try mob-related crimes individually. Since different mobsters perpetrated each crime, the government could only prosecute individual criminals instead of shutting down an entire criminal organization. Instead, because the law is so broad, both governmental and civil parties use it against all sorts of enterprises, both legal and illegal. RICO allows for prosecution of all individuals involved in a corrupt organization. For mob prosecutions, that means that the government can go after top leadership as well as the hit men and capos. And RICO established much enhanced sentences, as well. John L. Smith described the impact of RICO in an article for the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "After RICO, mob families began to crack under the very real threat that members and associates could be indicted en masse for a wide range of criminal activity.
Under the Georgia RICO law, it is a crime for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity to acquire or maintain any interest in or control of any type of property or business. A judge may fine a defendant up to three times the amount of any money obtained by the defendant during the scheme. Georgia also possesses the power to impose civil remedies. A judge may order a defendant to give up any business interest or property gained through a RICO violation. Defendants may also have other restrictions levied upon them, such as a prohibition from engaging in the same type of endeavor as the unlawful business.