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Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - Hardly a Civil Statute (From RICO - Expanding Uses in Civil Litigation, P 3-59, 1984, Arthur F Mathews, ed. - See NCJ-95991)

NCJ Number
J Best; J P Moran; C K Williams
Date Published
56 pages
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is described, and elements of a civil RICO claim are identified.
RICO is a remedial statute which authorizes enhanced criminal penalties and public and private civil suits against violators. Its main purpose is to attack organized crime; however, RICO's broad provisions encompass many consumer protection, commercial fraud, bribery, official corruption, and security violations which have no connection with organized crime. Courts have consistently upheld RICO's constitutionality against arguments that it is impermissibly vague, violates equal protection, constitutes an ex post facto law, or authorizes cruel and unusual punishment. There are seven basic elements of a civil RICO action: (1) only 'persons' can sue or be sued; (2) the plaintiff must show that the defendant participated in a 'pattern of racketeering activity;' (3) the 'pattern' must consist of at least two acts of racketeering committed within 10 years of each other with at least one act occurring after the effective date of the statute; (4) the existence of an 'enterprise' which is the instrument or the target of racketeering activity is required; (5) the enterprise must engage in or affect interstate commerce; (6) the plaintiff must allege and prove injury to his business or property; and (7) the plaintiff must demonstrate that his injuries resulted from a pattern of racketeering activity. An overview of State RICO statutes is provided. 14 references are included.