Although the RICO Act, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, was created in order to target the Mafia and other criminal organizations, it has become a commonly used federal crime. Racketeering activity no longer means that crime syndicates are involved. Any individual or participant in an enterprise can be charged with racketeering based on various circumstances and violations of federal law.
What is Racketeering?
Today, RICO can prosecute any member of an enterprise for racketeering if the organization has committed any two of 35 crimes within a 10 year period, regardless of affiliations to organized crime. Some of the crimes defined as racketeering activity by 18 U.S.C. Section 1961 can include: any number of white collar crimes, such as tax fraud, embezzlement, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering, various forms of federal drug crimes, robbery, theft, extortion, bribery and others.
RICO charges have been filed against such prominent organizations as the Key West Police Department, Major League Baseball, Hells Angels, and the Catholic Church. It is evident that an organization does not need to be a criminal syndicate in order to face racketeering charges. For instance, in 2006, flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries was prosecuted under the RICO act for hiring illegal immigrants, a violation of one of the 35 racketeering activity laws.
Rico and Enhanced Penalties in Los Angeles
Violating RICO laws can bring about some of the most stringent punishments in the federal justice system. RICO charges penalize convicts by greatly enhancing the penalties of other crimes committed. Fines and prison sentences under RICO have been referred to as the "nuclear bomb" for federal prosecutors. Some organizations, such as the National Federation of Independent Business, have even gone as far as the U.S. Supreme Court in challenging RICO laws as excessively abusive.
When it comes to defending RICO allegations, there is little room for error. Contacting a RICO attorney from our firm is a necessity in such severe and complicated legal proceedings. Don't be misled into believing you can't be affected by racketeering charges.
Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is prepared to handle RICO violations and any additional crimes involved.