U.S. v. Mongol Nation

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-06-2023
  • Case #: 19-50176
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Thomas, J. for the Court; Ikuta, C.J.; Forrest, C.J.; and Thomas, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

“[T]he purposes of the Mongols Gang . . . included, but were not limited to,” several unlawful purposes. Because the indictment expressly contemplated that the association may exist for other purposes—perhaps including lawful ones—it is not facially inconsistent with Mongol Nation’s interpretation of the definition of “person” in the RICO statute[.]"

Mongol Nation appealed its jury conviction of substantive and conspiracy violations under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq. The jury also found the organization’s collective membership marks “forfeitable.” Forfeiture was denied by the district court as potential First and Eighth Amendment violations. Mongol Nation appealed its conviction and sentence arguing the court lacked jurisdiction because Mongol Nation does not qualify as a “person” under RICO. The Government cross-appealed the order denying forfeiture. Regarding jurisdiction, Mongol Nation argued it can neither qualify as a property-owning unincorporated association under California law or a RICO “person” based on the allegation in the indictment that Mongol Nation exclusively exists for an unlawful purpose. The Government argued Mongol Nation failed to raise this argument in pre and post-trial challenges and waived their right to argue. The Court did not resolve the waiver argument. The Court found Mongol Nation’s argument failed because Mongol Nation mischaracterized the allegation in the indictment. The indictment indeed alleged that the purpose of the Mongol Gang was not limited to unlawful purposes and is not inconsistent with a “person” under RICO. The Government’s cross-appeal was denied not for constitutionality, but for improper forfeiture under RICO. AFFIRMED.

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