Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Under RICO, a person or group who commits any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period and, in the opinion of the US Attorney bringing the case, has committed those crimes with similar purpose or results can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." The act also contains a civil component that allows plaintiffs to sue for triple damages.

When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, he has the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. This provision is intended to force a defendant to plead guilty before indictment. [citation needed]

There is also a provision for private parties to sue. A "person damaged in his business or property" can sue one or more "racketeers." There must also be an "enterprise." The defendant(s) are not the enterprise, in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same. There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise. This lawsuit, like all Federal civil lawsuits, can take place in either Federal or State court.

RICO offenses and definitions:

Racketeering activity means:

Any act or threat involving gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year;
Any act which is indictable under a wide variety of specific provisions of title 18 of the United States Code relating to bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, etc.

Any act which is indictable under title 29, United States Code, section 186 (dealing with restrictions on payments and loans to labor organizations) or section 501 (c) (relating to embezzlement from union funds),

Any offense involving fraud connected with a case under title 11 (except a case under section 157 of this title), fraud in the sale of securities, or the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), punishable under any law of the United States,

Any act which is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act,

Any act which is indictable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 274 (relating to bringing in and harboring certain aliens), section 277 (relating to aiding or assisting certain aliens to enter the United States), or section 278 (relating to importation of alien for immoral purpose) if the act indictable under such section of such Act was committed for the purpose of financial gain, or

Any act that is indictable under any provision listed in section 2332b (g)(5)(B);
Pattern of racketeering activity requires at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity; The Supreme Court has instructed federal courts to follow the continuity plus relationship test in order to determine whether the facts of a specific case give rise to an established pattern. Predicate acts are related if they "have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission, or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events." H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. Continuity is both a closed and open ended concept, referring to either a closed period of conduct, or to past conduct that by its nature projects into the future with a threat of repetition.

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