RICO (law)

From Academic Kids

RICO or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is a United States law which provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. It was enacted as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970.

It has been speculated that the name and acronym were selected in a sly reference to the movie Little Caesar, which featured a notorious gangster named "Rico." The original drafter of the bill, G. Robert Blakey, has refused to confirm or deny this. [1] (http://www.snopes.com/language/acronyms/rico.asp)

Summary

Under RICO, a person or group who commits any two of 35 crimes--27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes--within a 10-year period and (in the opinion of the U. S. Attorney bringing the case) has committed those crimes with similar purpose or results can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." The act also contains a civil component that allows plaintiffs to sue for triple damages.

When the U. S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, he has the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. Some have said this provision is intended to force a defendant to plead guilty before indictment.

Where RICO laws might be applied

Although some of the RICO predicate acts are extortion and blackmail, one of the most successful applications of the RICO laws has been the ability to indict or sanction individuals for their behavior and actions committed against witnesses and victims in alleged retaliation or retribution for cooperating with law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

The RICO laws can be alleged in cases where civil lawsuits or criminal charges are brought against individuals or corporations in retaliation for said individuals or corporations working with law enforcement, or against individuals or corporations who have sued or filed criminal charges against a defendant.

Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) laws can be applied in an attempt to curb alleged abuses of the legal system by individuals or corporations who utilize the courts as a weapon to retaliate against whistle blowers, victims, or to silence another's speech. RICO could be alleged if it can be shown that lawyers and/or their clients conspired and collaborated to concoct fictitious legal complaints solely in retribution and retaliation for themselves having been brought before the courts.

External Link

RICO Act from Cornell University's U. S. Code database (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sup_01_18_10_I_20_96.html)

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