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Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2010 Pages: 961-1013
Corey P. Argust; Douglas E. Litvack; Brant W. Martin
Date Published
53 pages
In reviewing prosecutions for "white collar" crimes under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), this article discusses elements of a RICO offense, potential defenses to RICO charges, criminal penalties for RICO violations, RICO civil penalties, and recent developments in this area of the law.
In prosecuting a defendant under RICO, the government must prove that the defendant, through the commission of two or more acts constituting a pattern of racketeering activity, directly or indirectly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in an enterprise whose activities affected interstate or foreign commerce. A RICO prosecution can target "any individual or entity capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property." This broad definition of "person" allows a RICO prosecution to target a variety of entities, including unincorporated political associations, public utilities, and others. Defenses to RICO charges outlined in the article focus on the invalidity of one or more predicate acts cited in the charge, limitation of actions, withdrawal from the conspiracy cited, jurisdictional issues, and constitutional challenges. Regarding RICO penalties upon conviction, violators can be fined, imprisoned for up to 20 years, or both. They are also subject to mandatory asset forfeiture. RICO sentences advised under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines are reviewed. Civil penalties are allowed under RICO, including orders of divestiture, restriction on future activities, and dissolution or reorganization of the enterprise. The article's final section discusses Federal prosecutors' use of RICO in a nontraditional way in cases that involve protests, the tobacco industry, health care fraud, and police misconduct. 364 notes