The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act prohibits a criminal enterprise’s use of racketeering to manipulate the marketplace or affect interstate commerce.
Racketeering, for purposes of the Act, refers to a pattern of illegal activities carried out by member of the enterprise. For RICO charges to apply, there must be a pattern of illegal activity. The supreme court has instructed that a pattern may be found if the acts under consideration have the same or similar purposes, participants, victims, or methods, or are otherwise related by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events.
Under the Act, a pattern is established when a person commits two of the Act’s prohibited activities. There are 35 prohibited activities, including bribery, extortion, violent crimes such as murder and kidnapping, arson, and obstruction of justice.
Why Prosecutors Like RICO Charges
There are prosecutorial benefits to pursuing a RICO case. Not only are there enhanced penalties, but also when a person is indicted under RICO, the prosecutor has discretion to seek a pretrial order to seize a person’s assets. The seizure of assets prevents defendants from sheltering money, and may impact a person’s ability to hire ardent and capable defense counsel.
RICO also has a private right of action for plaintiffs that have been negatively affected by the illegal activities. For example, a contractor who lost a government bid due to bribery could sue under RICO for treble damages.
Aggressive Defense Against Racketeering Allegations
The broad scope of experience at Hilder & Associates, P.C. — which includes substantial service on the prosecutorial side in the U.S. Justice Department Organized Crime Strike Force — enables our team of attorneys to aggressively defend individuals facing RICO-related charges as well as damages for those individuals harmed by racketeering activities.