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Understanding the RICO Act and the Federal Crimes It Includes

federal crimeFor many people, the word racketeering suggests images of massive criminal enterprises and infamous cases. Well recognized names, from John Gotti to Harvey Weinstein, have been associated with racketeering, but it’s also a crime that occurs quite commonly on a much smaller scale.

In 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was passed. It’s a federal law designed with the intention of combating organized crime of all types in the United States. The RICO Act actually covers a broader range of crimes than many people are aware of, leaving some individuals unexpectedly facing charges under the act.

What Is the RICO Act?

The RICO Act provides the right to seek prosecution and criminal penalties for any racketeering activity that is performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Regarding these crimes, the law states the following:

  • It is unlawful for any person to receive income, either directly or indirectly, from a racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt.
  • It is unlawful for any person to maintain, either directly or indirectly through racketeering, any interest in or control of an enterprise that’s engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.
  • It is unlawful for any person employed or associated with an enterprise that is engaged in activities related to interstate or foreign commerce to conduct or participate in enterprise affairs through a racketeering or collection of unlawful debt.
  • It is unlawful for any person to conspire to violate any of the above provisions.

To put it more simply, the RICO Act refers to the federal crime prosecution of individuals who are involved in organized crime.

What Types of Crimes Are Included in the RICO Act

Because we often see the RICO Act applied to larger, more infamous cases, many people are surprised to learn that specific crimes, when committed on a smaller scale, can also be prosecuted under the RICO Act. According to the law, here is an example of the types of crimes that can fall under racketeering activity.

  • Violation of state statutes involving gambling, bribery, extortion, robbery, arson, kidnapping, murder and dealing a controlled substance or listed chemical under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Any act of bribery, theft, embezzlement, counterfeiting, fraud, gambling, money laundering, murder for hire and other offenses included in the Federal Criminal code.
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Securities Fraud
  • Embezzlement of union money
  • Criminal copyright infringement
  • Money laundering
  • Assisting with illegal entry into the United States with the purpose of financial gain
  • Drug trafficking
  • Slavery
  • Act of terrorism
  • Other unethical business practices

Penalties for RICO Act Offenses

Charges filed under the RICO Act are not to be taken lightly. The act authorizes severe penalties that include fines and imprisonment. For a single RICO charge, the maximum sentence is 20 years. This can be extended to a life sentence if other predicate acts, such as murder, warrant a more severe punishment. Monetary sentencing of a RICO Act charge can include a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of the proceeds acquired through the offense.

If you’re facing racketeering charges, including any of the offenses under the RICO Act, the time to speak to an experienced legal defense team is now. Contact Elden Law Group for a free consultation today.

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