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Thread: Outlawing Criminal Associations

  1. #1 Outlawing Criminal Associations 
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    One serious problem most governments face when dealing with organized crime is that membership in a criminal organization such as the Mafia, is usually not in itself illegal. There is a worry about telling people who they can and can't be friends with. Certainly if a person in the Mafia aids another member of the Mafia in committing a crime, or conspires with them to commit one, they'll go to jail for that, be we're not allowed to just arrest them for being Mafia members.

    I think that's silly. Naturally we have to draw the line carefully, but I think we can do that. It's not so hard. I think the way to define allowable and not allowable associations is to zero on a few questions:

    1) - Does it have a command structure?

    2) - Does that command structure have effective means at its disposal to force members to obey its commands against their will?

    3) - Does that command structure routinely give orders that contradict the law?



    Putting oneself in a situation where they are no longer free to choose whether they will obey the law or not should definitely be a crime. We outlaw drunk driving because a drunk person at the wheel wouldn't have enough control over their vehicle to prevent doing harm to others. If by being a member of a criminal organization a person finds them self in a situation where they may be threatened with harm to themselves or their families if they don't obey a particularly heinous order given to them by a superior, then at a minimum we could say that their free will in the matter has been compromised. Maybe they don't have a choice now, but what about when they joined?

    How often do criminals who do horrible things say "Oh but my leader would have killed me if I didn't do what they said!", or leaders argue that if they weren't brutal enough their underlings would oust them. Clearly the crucial point where the decision was made is when the person joined an organization that they knew full well was likely to give them those kinds of orders. At a minimum it's an act of reckless endangerment.


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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    1) - Does it have a command structure?

    2) - Does that command structure have effective means at its disposal to force members to obey its commands against their will?

    3) - Does that command structure routinely give orders that contradict the law?
    The Democratic Party!!!


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    I don't think it is necessarily that complicated. At the core of most criminal enterprises is corruption. There are many people outside of the mafia/yakuza that also benefit from their activities. The Japanese Yakuza has existed for centuries, yet Japan as a whole has a very low crime rate. American political parties also have behaved in many instances like organized crime (i.e. The Nixon White House).

    Another aspect of how the public responds to organized corruption, is the degree of harm and the nature of the perpetrators. I'm always amazed how there are steep penalties for armed robbery of a bank, yet when there is "white collar" crime which Billions of dollars are fleeced from the Banking system hardly no one is convicted (i.e. Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s and the Liar Loans/Subprime Loans of a few years ago). Both of these crisis have lead to the greatest bank robberies of all time, yet there has only been the conviction of Charles H. Keating.
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    Well, there's the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, with perhaps the more well-known section of it being the RICO Act.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Both of these crisis have lead to the greatest bank robberies of all time, yet there has only been the conviction of Charles H. Keating.
    If there haven't been any convictions, what is your basis for saying there were bank robberies?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Both of these crisis have lead to the greatest bank robberies of all time, yet there has only been the conviction of Charles H. Keating.
    If there haven't been any convictions, what is your basis for saying there were bank robberies?
    The quote you responded to clearly states there was one conviction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Both of these crisis have lead to the greatest bank robberies of all time, yet there has only been the conviction of Charles H. Keating.
    If there haven't been any convictions, what is your basis for saying there were bank robberies?
    The quote you responded to clearly states there was one conviction.
    There haven't been any convictions in the instances you are complaining about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    There haven't been any convictions in the instances you are complaining about.
    I don't follow your statement.
    I complained about the Savings and Loans Crisis of the 1980s, and Charles H. Keating was convicted for his part in it.

    As it relates to the Subprime Crisis, yes there are no convictions. Goldman Sachs is one of the many companies that have paid a fine that relates to predatory mortgage practices, no conviction.

    "...Goldman is being criticized for its involvement in the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis. Goldman Sachs is reported to have systematically helped the Greek government mask the true facts concerning its national debt between the years 1998 and 2009.[71] In September 2009, Goldman Sachs, among others, created a special credit default swap (CDS) index to cover of high risk of Greece's national debt.[72] The interest-rates of Greek national bonds have soared to a very high level, leading the Greek economy very close to bankruptcy in March and May 2010 and again in June 2011."

    "...On May 10, 2009, the Goldman Sachs Group agreed to pay up to $60 million to end an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office into whether the firm helped promote unfair home loans in the state. The settlement will be used to reduce the mortgage payments of 714 Massachusetts residents who had secured subprime mortgages funded by Goldman Sachs. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman, said it was “pleased to have resolved this matter,” and declined to comment further. This settlement may open the door to state government actions against Goldman throughout the United States aimed at securing compensation for predatory mortgage lending practices."


    Sources:
    http://fcx.fdic.gov/bank/analytical/banking/2000dec/brv13n2_2.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_loan_crisis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldman_Sachs
    G7 is told worldwide losses from sub-prime crisis could be $400bn | Business | The Guardian
    List of writedowns due to subprime crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The Democratic Party!!!
    The Republican Party!!!
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe View Post
    Well, there's the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, with perhaps the more well-known section of it being the RICO Act.
    It's a step in the right direction. It allows government to go after corrupt business enterprises.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rico Description
    The purpose of the RICO statute is "the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce."
    We just need it to go one step further and start going after the gang itself, even if that gang doesn't infiltrate into a legitimate organization. It does boggle one's mind that the gang is not illegal all by itself, but must first interact with a legitimate business in order to become illegal.

    What I'm wishing for is to identify a gang leadership as having a history of giving illegal orders, then rule that the organization is illegal as a whole (since its command structure routinely gives illegal orders) and arrest everyone in the whole gang merely for being a member of it. Maybe issue a notification of some kind when the ruling is made, so they have a grace period to cut off ties, and then arrest them if evidence emerges that they did not do so (like if they continued communicating with one another.) Certainly arrest any new members who decide to join after the edict.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    1) - Does it have a command structure?

    2) - Does that command structure have effective means at its disposal to force members to obey its commands against their will?

    3) - Does that command structure routinely give orders that contradict the law?
    The Democratic Party!!!
    I'd laugh if it wasn't so typical for Republicans to do this sort of thing. You almost think they're joking when they exaggerate like that, but then they go do like with the Obama birth certificate thing and you realize too late that they were serious after all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    I'd laugh if it wasn't so typical for Republicans to do this sort of thing. You almost think they're joking when they exaggerate like that, but then they go do like with the Obama birth certificate thing and you realize too late that they were serious after all.
    I was making a serious point. Your idea is too vague, and could be stretched to cover just about any organization you disagree with. It is a very dangerous idea you are proposing.
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  13. #12  
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    There would need to be clear definitions of where the lines are.

    1) - Command Structure - That's ok to leave alone

    2) - Forcing members to obey - We should define how much compulsion is necessary. If a person is threatened with death or other bodily harm, that's got to be enough.

    3) - Orders that contradict the law - We could set the requirement to be felonies, or class A felonies such as murder or assault.

    It's not too difficult to avoid aiming at parties like the Dem party or the Republican party. Besides, the Republican Party is the only one that's ever had a President get caught ordering his men to commit a felony. Watergate, and arguably Iran-Contra. The worst Democrat scandal appears to be a man lying about a marital infidelity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The worst Democrat scandal appears to be a man lying about a marital infidelity.
    Lying under oath is also known as perjury.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The worst Democrat scandal appears to be a man lying about a marital infidelity.
    Lying under oath is also known as perjury.
    If perjury were the worst thing the mafia did....... I think I'd just forget about them.

    Anyway Clinton lied on his own behalf rather than get a henchman to do it, so in his case the only condition we meet is #3. He didn't technically utilize any kind of command structure to commit his crime, though, so maybe not even #3 (no orders were issued as far as we know.) Nixon and Reagan, on the other hand, had henchmen involved in their crimes. Nixon's plumbers could argue they were acting on his orders when they broke into the Watergate building, and that they would have been.... I guess fired? If they disobeyed him. So, his crime meets all three conditions.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_plumbers
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Anyway Clinton lied on his own behalf rather than get a henchman to do it, so in his case the only condition we meet is #3.
    No, he suborned perjury as well.
    Clinton suborned perjury when, in a December 17, 1997 phone conversation, he asked her to say in her Jones affidavit that she was "delivering documents to me." He also suborned perjury when he suggested that she state in her affidavit that the Office of Legislative Affairs had found her Pentagon job, when in fact it had not.
    Should President Clinton Have Been Convicted?: An Analysis of the Impeachment Charges Against the President
    He didn't technically utilize any kind of command structure to commit his crime, though, so maybe not even #3 (no orders were issued as far as we know.) Nixon and Reagan, on the other hand, had henchmen involved in their crimes. Nixon's plumbers could argue they were acting on his orders when they broke into the Watergate building, and that they would have been.... I guess fired? If they disobeyed him. So, his crime meets all three conditions.


    White House Plumbers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    All the Democrats in congress were Clinton's henchmen. They obstructed every investigation.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Anyway Clinton lied on his own behalf rather than get a henchman to do it, so in his case the only condition we meet is #3.
    No, he suborned perjury as well.
    Clinton suborned perjury when, in a December 17, 1997 phone conversation, he asked her to say in her Jones affidavit that she was "delivering documents to me." He also suborned perjury when he suggested that she state in her affidavit that the Office of Legislative Affairs had found her Pentagon job, when in fact it had not.
    Should President Clinton Have Been Convicted?: An Analysis of the Impeachment Charges Against the President
    What consequences did he bring to bear when she chose to disobey him? I have to admit, this is a good basis for discussion of the topic, because it helps to establish where the lines are. Any two people who commit adultery will attempt to cover it up.

    The question is whether there exists a command structure devoted to achieving the necessary result. If Clinton had said to her outright: "you'll tell this lie or I will fire you", I think she would have had legal recourse against him. Even in extreme cases of corporate fraud, like what happened at Enron, if a superior orders you to participate in the fraud, and you ask for that order in writing, .....odds are they'll take it back.

    In the mafia, on the other hand, you can't request an order in writing, and they're not going to fire you. More likely fire a gun at you.


    He didn't technically utilize any kind of command structure to commit his crime, though, so maybe not even #3 (no orders were issued as far as we know.) Nixon and Reagan, on the other hand, had henchmen involved in their crimes. Nixon's plumbers could argue they were acting on his orders when they broke into the Watergate building, and that they would have been.... I guess fired? If they disobeyed him. So, his crime meets all three conditions.


    White House Plumbers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    All the Democrats in congress were Clinton's henchmen. They obstructed every investigation.
    Probably most of what they did, while not nice, wasn't illegal either. As long as they're using legal means to accomplish it (or the expectation put on them by the party doesn't include the use of illegal means), then we're missing item #3.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    1) - Does it have a command structure?

    2) - Does that command structure have effective means at its disposal to force members to obey its commands against their will?

    3) - Does that command structure routinely give orders that contradict the law?
    The Democratic Party!!!
    And the Republican Party... And the Communist party.... And the Socialist party.... And the Tea Party... And the Frat Party... And the......
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  19. #18  
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    However, most of these parties only have item #1. Items #2 and #3 are noticeably absent. All three items should be crucial in order to make out a case that an organization is a "criminal organization", and therefore does not have the right to operate.
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    We've been trying to get this done in Australia in relation to bikie gangs. My state's first attempt got knocked out on challenge to the High Court. Now a few others are trying the same thing. I presume the remaining states are saving their money and waiting for a success, then they'll just copy whatever legislation turns out to work constitutionally.

    Bit of background. http://blogs.adelaide.edu.au/public-...ngs-on-bikies/

    I have no idea whether any similar approach might work under other countries' legal and constitutional arrangements.
    Last edited by adelady; May 25th, 2012 at 08:59 PM.
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    The idea in the OP is interesting, but I think it's easily taken advantage of. What defines an Association? Is there a difference between knowing somebody involved in criminal activity, and not participating vs. Actually being a member or partner with the person in criminal activity? For such a law to work, it has to be very well defined.

    Like in the instance of the mafia: Is a wife liable? Or a member's child who is an adult but isn't involved? What about people that are associates, but not actually members of the organization? What if it's somebody that hangs out with mobsters, but is only a friend of their's and has no criminal affiliation? It's tough line to draw, and a tough line to enforce.

    In Adelady's state I'm sure they have a similar problem (like they do in N.America). Biker Gangs easily operate under the veil of being a Motorcycle Club - you could have members that aren't involved in criminal activity, and members that are. Especially when considering the size of a Club. If a club has several chapters, are all of them liable? Or just a chapter that's been caught for some act? Does a club become considered a criminal organization, or does it become considered associated with criminal activity - if anything at all?

    I think the idea for a law like this is good, but I also think it would be very difficult (maybe even to the point of it becoming a useless law) to implement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The worst Democrat scandal appears to be a man lying about a marital infidelity.
    Lying under oath is also known as perjury.
    This is true but how they get around that is stating "I don't recall" repeatedly!
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    Biker Gangs easily operate under the veil of being a Motorcycle Club - you could have members that aren't involved in criminal activity, and members that are.
    The sort of clubs we're talking about have "clubrooms" with 10 ft high, barbed wire topped, reinforced concrete walls and security better than practically any police or military unit would boast. Have no doubt that the whole enterprise in question is criminal root and branch. Though it wouldn't surprise me if some individuals involved - who really can't get out without serious personal cost - would like to see if the quite large businesses they run in the security/protection fields couldn't be run as entirely legitimate operations.
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    Having a wee bit o knowledge regarding clubs and gangs of the two wheeled powered bicycle type I have seen said "clubhouses" here in the states. And hard corp 1% outlaw clubs can be a problemhowever experience with those elements gives me the knowledge that they still operate with well defined sets of rules and regulations. which would then fall into the 3 questions kojax initially proposed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MrMojo1 View Post
    Both of these crisis have lead to the greatest bank robberies of all time, yet there has only been the conviction of Charles H. Keating.
    If there haven't been any convictions, what is your basis for saying there were bank robberies?
    The disappearance of large sums of money from banks. This is often a key means by which bank robberies are identified.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    The idea in the OP is interesting, but I think it's easily taken advantage of. What defines an Association? Is there a difference between knowing somebody involved in criminal activity, and not participating vs. Actually being a member or partner with the person in criminal activity? For such a law to work, it has to be very well defined.

    Like in the instance of the mafia: Is a wife liable? Or a member's child who is an adult but isn't involved? What about people that are associates, but not actually members of the organization? What if it's somebody that hangs out with mobsters, but is only a friend of their's and has no criminal affiliation? It's tough line to draw, and a tough line to enforce.
    Those are good questions, especially since so many mafia groups operate around a "family".


    In Adelady's state I'm sure they have a similar problem (like they do in N.America). Biker Gangs easily operate under the veil of being a Motorcycle Club - you could have members that aren't involved in criminal activity, and members that are. Especially when considering the size of a Club. If a club has several chapters, are all of them liable? Or just a chapter that's been caught for some act? Does a club become considered a criminal organization, or does it become considered associated with criminal activity - if anything at all?
    I think the club itself has to be proven to be a criminal organization before such a law could be applied to it. At that point, we would make illegal to be a member of the club, and so if the club continued to hold meetings, you could show up with police at the meeting and arrest everyone, because being at the meeting would constitute a criminal act. No need to criminalize any past associations. Just leave the past alone, and say that, from now on, moving forward, it will be illegal to continue being a member of it.

    But there are lots of work-arounds. Often businesses that are failing will use a strategy where they close down in order to declare bankruptcy, and then the owner simply starts a new similar business under a new name. If a biker club got caught organizing a criminal activity, the club could also simply disband, and start again under a new name (the organizers of the new club could claim that the non-law breakers in the old group decided to break off and form their own club).
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