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What is the Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions (RICO) Act?

May 15, 2020 | White Collar Crimes

The Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions (RICO) Act is a federal organized crime offense that individuals may be charged with here in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. A racketeering scheme generally involves many groups of individuals engaging in illegal businesses. These rackets are designed to extort and embezzle funds associated with prostitution, gambling, counterfeiting, drug trafficking and similar types of criminal schemes.

These types of crime rings can affect both public and private institutions. Individuals that have engaged in RICO types of crimes have changed how they engage in criminal activity over the years. They’ve done this in hopes of evading detection.

It’s not unheard of for labor unions to have lost some of their pension money in the past. In some instances, it’s been stolen by those associated with the mob. This has caused some companies to suffer irreparable damage. In these instances, the shareholders and employees have been left to suffer the bulk of the losses.

Prosecutors had a hard time convicting defendants charged with violating the RICO Act in the past. They used to only be successful in prosecuting a lower-ranked member of the organization, but not the actual mastermind behind it.

The RICO Act was enacted in 1978. Many states have since implemented similar laws. It was once necessary for prosecutors to prove that a defendant personally committed the offense to charge them with a RICO Act violation. That’s not a requirement anymore, however. Prosecutors must now only prove that a defendant owned or managed a criminal organization and that they regularly performed one or more specific illegal activities to bring RICO charges against them. This has made RICO a bigger tool than for prosecutors than ever before.

RICO hasn’t just been used to target organized crime in recent years. It’s also been utilized to prosecute individuals such as pro-life activists who’ve blocked entrances to abortion clinics. This federal law has also been used to bring members of the Catholic clergy to justice for allowing priests to molest children.

Individuals who have been charged under the RICO Act face serious prison time if they’re convicted of such a criminal offense. Federal sentences tend to be longer than Florida state ones. You’ll want to align yourself with a white-collar crimes attorney if you’ve been brought up on RICO charges. Your Tampa lawyer will be able to help you get the best outcome possible based upon the circumstances of your case.


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