There’s a law on the books of the United States Federal Penal Code called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO for short. It’s a prosecutorial tool used to bust up organized crime syndicates like the Mafia, the Russian mob and various drug cartels and has been used on a variety of defendants whose activities can be categorized as an ongoing organized criminal enterprise. Passed in 1970, it defines organized criminals as those who commit specific crimes over a ten year period. If convicted of those crimes, an additional 20 year sentence for racketeering is available for lucky winners on top of the penalties for their actual crimes.

While the law was designed to attack the Mafia, with mob boss Frank “Funzi” Tieri getting the dubious honor of being the first Mafiosi convicted under RICO, it has been applied as well to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, the Key West police department, the Latin Kings street gang, Major League Baseball and Michael Milken, who was indicted on 98 counts of insider trading. So RICO sounds like an ideal law to apply against the ring of thieves who blew up the world economy in 2008. Here’s a list of possible defendants should the government decide to prosecute the financial services industries using their most effective legal tool: 

Al “Dante” Gotrocks: As CEO of Credit, Shmedit! Mortgage Lenders, Mr. Gotrocks instituted a company policy of giving mortgage loans to dead people,  then packaging those loans as top-rated securities and selling them along with Sham Wows and Ginsu knives on TV informercials.

Jerome “Jerry Jets” Lawson: The chairman of the board of Megaglom Credit Card, Mr. Lawson ordered the issuing of credit cards to grammar school students, prison inmates and newborn babies, figuring these were demographic groups vasty underrepresented in the credit boom. His company went bust when his new customers couldn’t pay for the billions of dollars worth of video games, cigarettes and high tech strollers. “Jerry Jets” got his nickname from his acquisition of a small air force of corporate jets even though his company had only a single location. He also bought several dozen helicopters for top executives to go to lunch or get the newspapers, and paid for all these aircraft with worthless Megaglom credit cards.

RIchard Hertz: The CEO of Worldwide Worldwide Corporation, Mr. Hertz has been accused of reporting net profits of 40 bazillion dollars and using that inflated figure to hand out billions of dollars in bonuses to himself and scores of top executives. When the smoke cleared, it turned out the company was worth only around 800 bucks and hadn’t actually sold any products for the past 7 years. Undaunted, Hertz declared Worldwide Worldwide a charity and took tax deductions amounting to billions of dollars, which the IRS actually “refunded” to the company even though they had never paid a cent in taxes to the treasury. The tax windfall was distributed to Mr. Hertz himself and used to build an exact replica of Versailles Palace on his ocean front property in Palm Beach. 

Delbert Cranberry: Mr. Cranberry has been indicted on charges of selling stocks in a nonexistent company called Really, Really RIch Guys, Unlimited. The suits on Wall Street snapped up his worthless stock to the tune of several billion dollars before it was discovered that Mr. Cranberry had been operating from a studio apartment above a barber shop in Queens using a cheap laptop computer. He had no product to offer, no staff and no business credentials whatsoever. In defense of his gullible super-wealthy victims, he did, however, have an expensive haircut, many impressive suits, played golf quite well and had a very confident manner. 

Marvin Gardens: Named for a square on the board game “Monopoly,” Mr. Gardens took his name seriously and in 2002 cornered the market on yellow ties and before too long had all of corporate America paying ridiculously high prices for their “Power Ties” from Only Yellow Ties, Incorporated. Gardens took the company public and sold billions worth of stock that turned out to be useless when yellow ties lost their popularity in favor of red ones and Only Yellow Ties, Incorporated didn’t have any red ties to sell.

Monroe Bilderbottom: The chief executive officer of the Megagiantcolossal Big Bank of The Universe, Mr. Bilderbottom has been accused of cutting out all the middlemen when stealing from his customers by rigging his bank’s ATM machines to deposit 5 bucks from the customers’ accounts into his personal Cayman Island account on every third transaction. The charges were explained as routine maintenance charges and seldom disputed but it netted the CEO a few billion untaxed dollars. He was turned in by his own executive corps when they discovered they were cut out of the larceny loop while they had to make do with old fashioned, low tech bank theft; inflating the company’s net worth and exaggerating profits to artificially drive the price of the stock through the roof until they unloaded their own shares, leaving their investors holding the (empty) bag.

The Combover Brothers: Lester, Elliot and Fred Combover are partners in the law firm of Combover, Combover & Combover. The Combovers practiced corporate law and had as their clients all the defendants listed above. They stand accused of money laundering, bank fraud, tax-evasion, stock manipulation, insider trading and always smiling when they spoke, no matter what was the subject matter. Investigators had their suspicions confirmed when it was discovered that all 3 Combovers had been trained as TV newscasters and never went to law school, so charges of practicing law without a license and unnecessary smily speak have been added.

J. Cuthbert Willingham Mortimer “Bunky” DeLanier-Wilberforce IV: The guy did nothing wrong, but he’s a wealthy banker with a ridiculous name that cries out for a stiff jail term. Federal prosecutors are combing the fine print of the RICO statutes to find the applicable legal remedy, and investigators are working feverishly to find out what the “J” stands for and how it could possibly be so much worse than his other names that he doesn’t use it. He was also a client of the Combover Brothers so authorities figure between the single initial in front of a bunch of funny names and the Combover connection he’s got to be up to no good. And then there’s his annoying habit of smiling when he speaks…

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