Sat 8:10pm: Tribune explores local use of RICO law in civil lawsuits

Coming Sunday:

Ohio’s racketeering law is seldom used in civil cases. But for the second time this year, a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations civil lawsuit has been filed in the Mahoning Valley.

An architectural firm in Canfield sued current and former officials with Beaver Local Schools in Mahoning County, claiming the district received from the company, “through a pattern of corrupt activity,” services related to the design and construction of a new building.

In Trumbull County earlier this year, the owner of the prominent Sunrise Inn restaurant in downtown Warren filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the owner of a bar across the street and two other businessmen he claims are associates. The complaint alleges a pattern of corrupt activity designed to damage the Sunrise Inn.

These lawsuits are so rare that the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which is required to be notified in some RICO cases, reports that the notifications “are submitted less than once a year.”

Reporter Ron Selak Jr. takes a look Sunday at the RICO law, why it’s fallen out of favor in civil lawsuits, and how it came to be used twice this year in the area.