The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Title 18 U.S.C. Chapter 96) addresses various forms of organized crime, such as mafia, street gangs, drug rings, and sometimes even legitimate companies involved in criminal activities. This across-the-board approach to RICO prosecution may cause a legitimate business connection or innocent relationship to result in criminal charges, severe fines, a tarnished reputation and lengthy prison time.
What Crimes Are Covered By RICO
The Act encompasses a wide range of crimes, such as bribery, securities fraud, drug offenses, some sex crimes, illegal gambling, etc, basically almost any offense listed in Titles 18 and 29 of the U.S.C. To secure conviction, the prosecutors need to show proof that the defendant committed two of the listed crimes (or two counts of a single crime) and more within a certain period of time.
Conspiracy to violate the Act is a powerful tool used by the prosecutors. Under Section 1962 of Title 18 U.S.C. it is a crime to conspire to break any of the Act’s provisions. There is a difference between RICO conspiracy and the general federal conspiracy in several ways.
Under the general federal conspiracy statute, it is a crime to agree with others to commit a crime but the agreement should have the same objective. In RICO cases, often there are many different objectives as RICO activities may involve many various criminal activities. The general conspiracy statute is not as effective as the RICO conspiracy statute, which simply makes it a separate substantive offense, which covers all participants and all crimes.
In a RICO conspiracy, just like a general conspiracy, participants don’t need to have full knowledge of all the details of the conspired offense. To secure conviction, prosecutors only need to prove that the defendant knew about the general nature of the plan. It doesn’t matter that one conspirator had no knowledge of the crimes committed by other conspirators. The crime is agreeing to commit the crime, not necessarily committing it.
Another distinction between RICO conspiracy and the general federal conspiracy is that in racketeering conspiracy there is no requirement of avert act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
RICO Criminal Penalties
Criminal penalties for RICO violations include up to 20 years in prison, or life imprisonment for some offenses, as well as fines and forfeiture of funds and property which are the proceeds of an illegal activity. The fines can be up to $250,000, and organizational fines can reach $500,000. Alternatively, the fine may be not more than either twice the total gain from the offense or twice the loss to a victimized person, whichever is greater.
New York RICO Attorneys
If you are facing a RICO investigation or charge in New York, your most important asset in fighting for your rights is an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with expertise in RICO cases.
Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC provide representation for individuals and businesses accused of RICO violations. Our team of skilled and energetic attorneys will work tirelessly in creating a strong defense and obtaining the best possible result in your case. We have over 75 years of combined criminal defense experience and we have defended over a thousand of federal cases in New York and across the country.
To learn more about how Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC can help you fight RICO charges, contact us at (212) 577-6677.