Is Tony Ortega Above The Law?

Passed in 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. It allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Simply put, racketeering means engaging in an illegal scheme involving one or more of 35 offenses, including kidnapping, murder, bribery, arson and extortion. 

G. Robert Blakey, a federal criminal law professor at Notre Dame University who helped draft racketeering laws across the nation, describes it this way:

“Racketeering’s not a specific crime — it’s a way of thinking about and prosecuting a variety of crimes… And it’s not only associated with [mafia-style] organized crime.”

Of course Tony Ortega and his former bosses over at Backpage are well versed on all things RICO related by this point. They got a crash course on the subject when a grand jury in Phoenix handed the top brass at Backpage a 93-count indictment back in the Spring of 2018.

Today we thought we’d take a closer look at the RICO laws to better understand how they might affect those we might refer to as ‘not yet indicted’ Backpage insiders. 

According to the US Justice Department, to convict someone of racketeering prosecutors must prove five different criteria:

A criminal enterprise existed

The enterprise affected interstate commerce

The defendant was associated with or employed by the enterprise

The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity

The defendant participated in at least two acts of racketeering activity

So why is all this important for us to know?

According to the wording of indictment issued for the Backpage officials, “virtually every dollar flowing into Backpage’s coffers represents the proceeds of illegal activity”.

Indeed, Tony Ortega had a vested interest in keeping the money flowing into Backpage’s coffers. He made that very clear every time he attacked journalists or human rights advocates for questioning Backpage’s relationship with child sex trafficking.

At present only 7 top officials for the former sex trafficking site await trial.  The purposefully broad language of the RICO Act, however, has many demanding a more aggressive prosecution of those involved at all levels of the racketeering scheme.

The time has come for a full accounting of this Backpage conspiracy and if individuals like Tony Ortega who worked for the Backpage bosses cowardly refuse to speak, we demand to see them subpoenaed. 

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