Understanding the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
Organized crime has remained one of the strongest threats to the United States, which is why the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was passed. Under RICO, it is unlawful for anyone employed by or associated with an enterprise engaged in interstate or foreign commerce to conduct or participate in the enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt. “Enterprise” includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, as well as any union or group of associated individuals. Specifically, the RICO act prohibits a total of 35 state and federal racketeering offenses including but not limited to:
- Embezzlement of union funds
- Mail fraud
- Wire fraud
- Money laundering
- Obstruction of justice
The RICO Act allows the federal government to prosecute various types of racketeering activity connected to an enterprise. Prior to the passing of the RICO Act, federal prosecutors had to try suspects of the same illicit enterprise individually rather than collectively, but after the Act passed, prosecutors could try all suspected RICO violators at once. To convict one or more RICO defendants, prosecutors have the burden of proving the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- An enterprise existed
- The enterprise affected interstate commerce
- The defendant was associated with or employed by the enterprise
- The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity
- The defendant conducted or participated in the enterprise’s conduct by committing at least two acts of racketeering activity
If convicted of violating the RICO Act, you will face federal charges punishable by thousands of dollars in fines and up to 20 years in federal prison. You may also have to return all illegal profits and property obtained through racketeering. Not to mention, your consequences may not only account for RICO violations but also the specific pattern of crimes committed. For instance, if the pattern of criminal activity including kidnapping, you may face both state and federal penalties.
Arrested? You Are Not Alone.
For the past 25+ years, Attorney Peter Barrett has helped countless clients in Dallas resolve their federal charges by building custom defense strategies tailors to their unique circumstances. He understands that no two cases are the same, therefore the defense strategies shouldn’t be, either. That’s why you can count on us to go the extra mile to ensure your case can withstand even the most aggressive prosecutorial tactics.
To learn more about how we can defend you, contact us at (214) 307-8667!