The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) was enacted in 1970 and was originally used primarily to prosecute “Mafia” organized crime cases. In recent years however, RICO prosecutions and civil lawsuits have become much broader in scope, with headline-making RICO cases being brought against prominent organizations such as Catholic dioceses, police departments, and Major League Baseball.
A RICO violation consists of a “pattern of racketeering activity connected to an enterprise.” Any entity or group of individuals can be considered an “entity” under the statute, and 37 different federal and state crimes are classified as “racketeering activities,” including gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, drug dealing, bribery, embezzlement, immigration offenses, mail fraud, and wire fraud, among others.
To be charged with a violation of RICO, at least two of the “racketeering activities” listed by the statute must have been committed through the enterprise in a ten-year period. However, “leaders” of a criminal enterprise can be charged where they ordered or assisted the commission of the racketeering activities, even where they did not commit the crimes themselves.
Violations of RICO may result in civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment up to a life term and fines of up to $500,000 for organizations and $250,000 for individuals for each offense. Moreover, civil actions may be brought under RICO not only by the federal government but also by private individuals, and successful plaintiffs may be awarded triple damages. In addition, a RICO conviction can result in permanent forfeiture of assets related to the enterprise or of the defendant’s other assets of equal value, and these assets can be seized at the commencement of the case, pending the final outcome.
Given the high stakes involved, it is imperative that individuals facing a civil or criminal RICO matter choose an attorney with the knowledge and experience necessary to defend such a case. I have chosen to focus my practice on White Collar Crimes, including RICO. Over the last 40 years, I have earned a successful track record in high stakes white collar matters and have argued before the United States Supreme Court as well as other federal courts throughout the country. I fight hard to enforce the rights of my clients, and I believe in the integrity of that fight.
If you have questions or concerns about a RICO matter, I invite you to contact me directly to discuss it at (212) 639-1600 or Patrick@MullinDefense.com. You will discuss your concerns with me personally—never an associate or a paralegal. In addition, you should know that your contact with me, and with my firm, is privileged under the law, regardless of whether or not you decide to retain my firm to represent you.