The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to prevent organized crime in the United States. RICO prescribes civil and criminal penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Under RICO, it is unlawful for an employee or associate of an enterprise engaged in interstate or foreign commerce to conduct or participate in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt. For a defendant to be convicted under RICO, the government must prove that:
- An enterprise existed;
- The enterprise affected interstate commerce;
- The defendant was employed by or associated with the enterprise;
- The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; and
- The defendant participated in the conduct of the enterprise through the aforementioned pattern of racketeering activity through the commission of at least 2 acts of racketeering activity.
RICO Elements Explained
A RICO enterprise includes any partnership, corporation, individual, association, legal entity, union, or group of individuals associated in fact. A pattern of racketeering activity means that the defendant must have committed at least two acts of racketeering activity within 10 years of each other. The government must demonstrate that the acts of racketeering are related and pose a threat of continued criminal activity. To demonstrate that separate racketeering acts pose a threat of continued racketeering activity, the government must prove that:
- The acts are part of a long-term association that exists for the purpose of conducting criminal activities;
- The acts constitute a regular way of conducting the defendant’s ongoing business; or
- The acts constitute a regular way of conducting an ongoing and legitimate enterprise.
RICO expressly states that it is unlawful for any person to conspire to violate any of its subsections. Thus, merely planning to violate the statute can result in prosecution. To demonstrate a conspiracy to violate RICO, the government must prove that:
- The defendant agreed to commit the substantive racketeering offense through agreeing to participate in two racketeering acts;
- The defendant was aware of the general status of the conspiracy; and
- The defendant was aware that the conspiracy extended beyond his or her individual role.
Texas White Collar Litigation Attorneys
Attorneys at Ajamie LLP represent both plaintiffs and defendants in claims involving antitrust, bank fraud, financial-advisor misconduct, RICO violations, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. Our experienced white collar attorneys are adept at designing and implementing creative strategies to resolve disputes in all of these practice areas, and our expert Texas litigators possess a thorough understanding of the key issues and financial constraints facing organizations today. Please contact us for a consultation.