While Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is modeled upon the federal RICO Act, it has some very clear differences that make Georgia’s RICO law more expansive than its federal counterpart. Even still, Georgia’s RICO law is limited in scope and, in many cases where it’s asserted as a claim, the alleged wrongdoing doesn’t fall within the narrow goalposts the law erects. If your ordinary business dispute has spun up into a claim of Georgia RICO violations by the other side, make sure you have an Atlanta RICO attorney experienced in handling these cases and in getting the claim dismissal or other positive outcome you need.
There are actually several ways that a civil claim under Georgia’s RICO law can come up short. For one thing, O.C.G.A. Section 16-14-4(a) requires that a RICO plaintiff prove that the defendant, by use of a “pattern of racketeering activity” or the proceeds from that activity, obtained “an interest in or control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property of any nature, including money.”
This last requirement was what felled one businessman’s recent RICO claim. That businessman, L.D., was someone who, according to some news reports, frequently acted as an intermediary between college football players and professional football agents.
The businessman allegedly approached a high-powered NFL agent and indicated that he would steer a specific star player from Mississippi State University to sign with the agent’s agency. In exchange, the agent allegedly offered to pay L.D. 1% of the player’s NFL contracts if the player signed with the agency.
Ultimately, the player signed with the agency and went on to become a very successful NFL star. He was so successful, in fact, that his NFL team signed him to a $103 million contract extension in 2016. The agency, however, allegedly paid L.D. nothing, which spurred L.D.’s RICO lawsuit.
In L.D.’s complaint, the thing that the agent and his agency allegedly wrongfully obtained through their racketeering activity was L.D.’s “services” related to steering the player to sign with that agency. That was a problem for L.D.
‘Services’ isn’t expressly mentioned in the statute
The problem was that “services” isn’t on the list created by the Georgia statutes. In other words, Georgia’s RICO law bars you from obtaining someone’s enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, prohibits you from obtaining someone’s personal property through a pattern of racketeering activity, and bars you from obtaining someone’s real property through a pattern of racketeering activity, but it does not specifically prevent you from obtaining someone’s services through a pattern of racketeering activity.
L.D. tried to assert that his services qualified as personal property, but that didn’t work. Elsewhere in the Georgia statutes, a definition of personal property is laid out, and nowhere in that definition does the word “services” appear, either in the context of tangible personal property or intangible personal property.
The appeals court reasoned that, if the legislature meant to include services in Section 16-14-4(a), it would have done so explicitly. In other words, obtaining services through racketeering activity was not a civil RICO violation under Georgia law, and L.D.’s claim necessarily failed.
When you’re doing a “DIY” project at home, having the right tool for the job is essential. Much the same is true with lawsuits. If you’re facing a Georgia RICO issue, you need the right legal team with the right experience related to civil RICO cases. Rely on the knowledgeable civil RICO attorneys at Poole Huffman, LLC to provide that sort of powerful representation to you. We’re not just civil litigators; we’re litigators with extensive experience handling Georgia RICO cases and we know how to achieve success for you, whether you’re on the plaintiffs’ side or the defense side. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (404) 373-4008 to schedule your confidential consultation today.