For years, organized crime syndicates, a.k.a. The Mafia or La Cosa Nostra, have offered a vague service called protection to businesses willing to pay their fees. Drawing on the success of pre-paid legal services, the underworld is beginning to offer their clients a broader package of services called, (what else?) Pre-Paid Illegal services.
We spoke to Mario “The Octopus” Garzelli, who claims to be well connected to the mob. He told us, “My organization, and others like it, have been looking for new revenue streams beyond our traditional business models. We have the old standbys such as gambling, prostitution, extortion, embezzlement, and such. Some of us were afraid we would lose the gambling racket to state lotteries, but we got into the state lottery commissions, and we rig the lottery. That has helped, but it just hasn’t been the same since prohibition was abolished. We just aren't bringing in the big money like we did with bootlegging and speakeasies."
He went on to tell me, "We have noticed that in many states, the law firms affiliated with pre-paid legal service memberships were raking in up to three hundred and fifty thousand dollars each month in retainer fees. All that for something the people paying for it might never have to use! They had cooked up a whole new kind of insurance. We wanted a piece of that racket. While we can’t do exactly the same thing, we could do more than we were doing. One of John Gotti’s last, and I dare say greatest ideas, was to more clearly define what businesses who pay us protection can get for their money, and to offer even more services that they could not just buy in a store. You name it, we can make it happen. Membership has its privileges.”
He explained that at the lowest rate, only basic protection would be provided, but for additional fees, the organization could intimidate enemies of the businesses it protects, extort extra money from their customers, see to it that new competition does not enter their market, or even have people rubbed out. “Normally, if you needed some toughs to lean on people for you, or even to bump people off, it would cost a bundle, maybe more than you got, but for a member of pre-paid illegal services, it’s part of the package! What could be better than that? You got some officials you need bribed so you can do business with no watchdog snooping around? We have experts who can identify their weakness, and deliver whatever the goods are that will buy them off. We can do this for a fraction of the cost of trying to do bribery yourself. Imagine the possibilities.
Leave it to lawyers to give the criminal element new ideas. Maybe what Shakespeare said about them wasn’t such a bad idea.