“RICO” is an acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The passage of the RICO act in 1970 was aimed, originally at the mafia. RICO allows both prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed in a group criminal enterprise.

Types of activities that may fall under RICO include illegal gambling /betting operations, bribery, murder, kidnapping, money laundering, counterfeiting, embezzlement, slavery,  drug trafficking, and multiple other unsavory business practices.

Since the 1970 passage RICO has been the basis for investigations involving numerous crime families, motorcycle clubs, and gangs. Notable investigations involving RICO laws over the years have involved Donald Trump, Major League Baseball, Greenpeace, the Catholic Church,  the Key West, Florida Police Department, and the Los Angeles, California Police Department. 

Elements of a RICO Case

Prosecutors must prove elements of a RICO case in order to be successful. The key elements of a case are:

  • A criminal enterprise existed (could be an organization or loose hierarchy)
  • The person charged was employed by or associated with the criminal enterprise
  • The person charged agreed, willingly, to be a participant in the criminal enterprise
  • The enterprise’s actions involved interstate commerce
  • The person charged, and at least one other conspirator, agreed to commit two racketeering acts to further the criminal enterprise.

Racketeering, is by definition, dishonest and fraudulent business dealings, typically, being involved in an illegal scheme or enterprise. Racketeering and conspiracy charges are frightening and overwhelming criminal charges to face, but it is possible to build a strategic, and successful defense. There is much at stake when you are facing money laundering, RICO, white-collar or federal drug charges.  A conviction could lead to asset forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime. Additionally, someone convicted under RICO charges may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Defenses to a RICO Charge

Prosecutors often file racketeering charges with the aim to take down organized crime. Proving a RICO violation results in the award of triple damages plus attorney’s fees, so plaintiffs are seemingly looking for ways to turn their criminal grievances into a RICO suit. However, many RICO cases often do not survive the initial pleading case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help ensure a case is thrown out. Defenses to a RICO claim may include:

  • The defendant did not own / was not involved in an organization or enterprise
  • The activities you were involved in was not illegal
  • There was no pattern of racketeering activity.

Every case is different, and a thorough review of facts is necessary to craft a defense. If you are facing RICO charges, or know or suspect that you are going investigated, you need a strong legal defense. Do not rely solely on corporate counsel, as your company’s legal interests may not align with your own.  Do not wait to speak to an experienced and aggressive white collar crime attorney.

Vadim A. Glozman understands the gravity of RICO charges and is ready and able to represent you during this difficult time.