06:06 AM

Is Mob-Busting RICO Overkill For Combating Cybercrime?

The milestone conviction of 22-year-old David Camez for his participation in a Russian-run "carder" forum raises legitimate questions about the role of RICO in taking down cybercrime.

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Brian Bartlett
Brian Bartlett,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 3:31:53 AM
It doesn't matter...
whether you are a lieutenant, capo, bagman or enforcer. The organization, and it was definitely a group with  specific (illegal) shared goals, really is corrupt. Rackateers? Yes, they were engaging in a racket. All the elements are there, you'd need a lawyer to disect the theology needed to contradict the facts.

As for the age, this society recognizes that there are adult-size consequences to adult-size criminal acts. I understand the Aaron Schwartz analogy and it is far from the mark. No member of society was damaged save the owner of the repository and they forgave that.

As an aside: I've yet to scratch the surface of a US Attorney that din't have future higher office as a goal, which is why the statutes are heiniously applied. In this one case, where in my NSHO RICO was applied correctly, the US Attorney got the golden ring (look that up, youngsters ;). OTOH, I expect the Aaron Schwartz case is sticking to that lawyers shoes even today.

User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2013 | 12:57:28 AM
Other Side of the Story
I love the media. I have seen several articles like this, some more biased than others, but all with the same slant that the government is being overly abusive with its use of the RICO statute. However, in each article I seem to see only the portions of the story that paint Camez as a some poor kid who at 17 got wrapped up in some "ebay for criminals".

I followed this trial closely and what I don't see in the articles is any mention of the portions of the trial where Camez was trading guns for counterfeit credit cards or the portion of the trial where one of his codefendants testified that Camez advice to him after he got in trouble at a Walmart was to next time punch the cashier in the mouth or statements Camez made about his own crew beating up a cashier. 

What I think is telling, and only gets a cursory mention, is that the jury only deliberated for 2 hours (which actually included their lunch break). The trial lasted over 3 weeks and had dozens of witnesses. Often quoted experts say that RICO is an incredibly complex statute. Yet 12 people, who arent judges or lawyers, understood the law as it applied here and made a unanimous decision in less than 2 hours. That tells me that it wasn't much of a "government experiment" at all, but instead a way to deal with the new face of organized crime.


Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/17/2013 | 12:30:33 PM
Re: Guilty?
The appeal will be worth following, I'm also curious to see of Camez' attorneys will argue the appeal based on the inappropriateness (of lack of ) of the Rico statute. 
User Rank: Apprentice
12/17/2013 | 11:24:36 AM
Re: Guilty?
Thanks for your comment. What's notable here is that Camez never pleaded guilty. Rather, he was convicted, which makes this the first time that RICO was succesfully used in a cybercrime case that resulted in a guilty verdict. 

At first blush, I agree that using RICO to take down criminals seems like a no-brainer. But the case also raises a number of interesting legal questions. For starters, is a 17-year-old customer of an underground forum -- that's been likened to an eBay for ID thieves -- part of a "criminal enterprise"? Or is he just a thief who buys stolen IDs, and who might be succesfully rehabilitated after doing a bit of time?

Because he was convicted on the RICO front, this guy can be sent down for a much, much longer period of time (max 20 years) -- and be on the hook for the entire amount of money stolen by members of that eBay-like ID theft site -- than if he'd been convicted of a non-RICO charge (max 5 years). 

That's why Deitch was arguing that judges need to be careful about how they handle these kinds of cases. Prosecutors will always throw the biggest book (if you will) that they have at a suspect. But I'd argue that the time should fit the crime.

All that said, I think it will be interesting to see what kind of sentence Camez gets, and also if the RICO conviction holds up on appeal.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/17/2013 | 7:40:55 AM
If an individual admits to being guilty of the charges, what is a jury expected to do? I don't know if he admitted guilt during the trial, or as an aside afterwards. But I can't blame the government for going after the harsher choice, though they could have asked for a lesser penalty in this particular case. Should cyber crime be prosecuted under RICO? Sure! There are networks of criminals doing this. Estimates have been that cyber crime costs us billions a year. Crime is crime.
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