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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today - re Indiana's RICO Act

In Ashonta Kenya Jackson v. State of Indiana, a 13-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Rush writes:

Obtaining a conviction under the Indiana Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act requires the State to prove a defendant was involved in a “pattern of racketeering activity.” Here, Jackson was convicted of C-felony “corrupt business influence” (the formal name of the Indiana RICO offense) for his involvement in three armed robberies during the course of a month. He argues the State failed to prove the robberies constituted a “pattern of racketeering activity” because there was insufficient evidence that they amounted to or posed a threat of continued criminal activity.

We recognize that the United States Supreme Court has written a continuity requirement into “pattern of racketeering activity” as it appears in the Federal RICO Act. But we also recognize that the Indiana RICO Act differs significantly from its federal counterpart, including in its definition of that particular phrase. The plain language of Indiana’s definition does not contain a continuity element, and well-established rules of construction preclude courts from engrafting an additional element onto the statute. Accordingly, continuity is not required for a corrupt business influence conviction.

That being said, continuity remains a relevant consideration, as the plain language of Indiana’s definition of “pattern of racketeering activity” does require the State to prove that the incidents of criminal conduct were “not isolated.” Here, a reasonable fact-finder could draw that inference from the State’s evidence that Jackson orchestrated the criminal operation and that the robberies’ planning and coordination became increasingly sophisticated. We therefore affirm his conviction for corrupt business influence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 2, 2016 02:39 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions