In the 1960s, the federal government had a big problem on their hands. Large cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Las Vegas, were under the control of the Mafia and their criminal enterprise was growing exponentially.
Up until this point, law enforcement had been largely unsuccessful in their attempts to shut them down, partly because they could only prosecute mob-related crimes individually. They needed their own “ultimate hit man.”
In 1970, the federal government passed a law – called the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ACT” or RICO – in an effort to pursue the Mafia as a whole. Up until this point, the government could only prosecute mob-related individuals. RICO allowed the government to go after all the individuals of a corrupt organization. RICO proved a powerful tool and allowed the government to convict high-ranking mobsters who ordered crimes, not just those who got their hands dirty.
These days, the government rarely uses RICO against mobsters or the mafia. However, because the law is so broad, the government now uses it to charge CEOs and CFOs of banks and businesses as well as their employees with racketeering.
In this article, we are going to answer some frequently asked questions about RICO and how it is being applied to the 21st Century. If you or a loved one is facing RICO charges in North Texas, you will need an experienced federal in your corner.
What is the RICO Act?
RICO refers to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and is codified in 18 U.S Code Chapter 96. Simply put, racketeering is making money through an unlawful enterprise. Under RICO, a person who is member of an enterprise who has committed any two of 35 crimes within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. The reaches of the RICO Act are almost boundless. Its breadth means almost anyone can get caught up in the wide net the federal government casts.
What crimes are associated with the RICO Act?
This sweeping statute encompasses 35 specific offenses that may be connected to an ongoing criminal enterprise, which are referred to as “predicate” crimes. Here’s a list of some of those crimes:
- Obstruction of Justice
- Money Laundering
- Securities Fraud
What is the punishment for a RICO Act charges in North Texas?
A conviction for a single RICO charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. However, it can be punished by up to life in prison the predicate crime is punishable by life in prison, such as murder. A fine of up to $250,000, or twice the proceeds of the illicit activity, can also be imposed. Any proceeds that can be connected to illegal activity will also be subject to forfeiture by the federal government.
Who handles RICO charges for the government?
RICO charges are centralized through the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office. The federal government often picks up prosecution of serious allegations involving organized crime, even if they are violations of state law, because local law enforcement officials are unable to successfully prosecute such complex cases.
Defending RICO Act Charges in North Texas
RICO is a serious federal crime, but it is not necessarily an easy case for the government to prove. The government’s burden is high in a RICO case. The prosecutors must prove that the defendant (s) knowingly and repeatedly engaged in a criminal enterprise. Defenses that could be raised in a RICO Act case could include, but are not limited to
- No criminal enterprise existed:
- The alleged criminal enterprise didn’t affect interstate or foreign commerce;
- The defendant wasn’t employed or associated with the enterprise;
- The defendant didn’t engage in a pattern of racketeering activity;
- The defendant did not commit at least two of the racketeering acts in the indictment.
Facing Federal RICO Act Charges in North Texas? Contact Us.
If you or a loved one are facing federal RICO Act charges in North Texas or under investigation for racketeering or corruption, contact our team of federal criminal defense attorneys today. These cases can be incredibly defense. You need someone with the skills and experience to take on the federal government. We defend Federal RICO act charges in North Texas, including Fort Worth, Dallas and surrounding areas. Call today for a free consultation. 817-203-2220.