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Justices: State RICO law can apply to street-crimes

March 2, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that street-level crimes may be prosecuted under the state’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act if the crimes aren’t isolated, affirming an Anderson man’s conviction of corrupt business influence related to a string of robberies.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the court in Ashonta Kenya Jackson v. State of Indiana, 48S02-1509-CR-554, that while the federal RICO act requires a continuing pattern of racketeering activities, Indiana’s corrupt business influence law requires a pattern of racketeering activities that were not isolated events.

Ashonta Kenya Jackson drove a getaway car for a crew of younger men who robbed a liquor store twice and later a bank in October 2013. Jackson was charged with three counts of Class B felony robbery, and because of the nature of the crimes, the prosecutor also charged Class C felony corrupt business influence. Jackson was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 63 years in prison as he was also adjudicated a habitual offender.
 
“Jackson was the mastermind behind each robbery, plotting the crimes and supervising his recruits. The blueprint he developed let him bear little risk, keeping a safe distance while his accomplices carried out the crimes and waiting to rendezvous with his crew until afterward. And Jackson’s coordination of the crimes became more sophisticated over time,” Rush wrote.

“The third armed robbery involved a riskier target, a bank — and a savvier design, calling in a bomb threat to a local school in an effort to distract law enforcement. There is no indication that Jackson’s goal was short-lived and that he would have stopped after the third robbery; rather, the evidence points to the opposite conclusion. In sum, we hold that the fact-finder could reasonably infer from the nature of the crimes that they were not isolated or sporadic.”   

The case was remanded to the trial court to revise the sentencing order regarding which offense was enhanced by Jackson’s habitual offender judgment.

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