Any federal criminal defense attorney can tell you that racketeering charges stemming from the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute codified by title 18, United States Code, sections 1961-1968 are incredibly serious. They can also tell you that convictions for these charges carry very stiff penalties both in terms of incarceration and in terms of financial loss and forfeiture.
If you find yourself the target of a RICO investigation or if you are charged with racketeering, it is imperative that you speak to a knowledgeable attorney in Manhattan immediately. When you contact our team at Konta Georges & Buza P.C. they will move swiftly to examine the evidence against you and build a strong case. Our litigators will not back down from a legal challenge in federal court because they are dedicated to protecting their clients’ rights and their futures.
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The RICO statute was enacted in 1970 to give the federal government the means and tools necessary to combat organized crime. It is no coincidence that the mafia was essentially eradicated within three decades since RICO was passed. Most lawyers, scholars and judges agree that the RICO Act was very effective at reducing organized crime.
While the RICO statute was enacted to give the government the tools to combat the mafia, the government hasn’t stopped using it even though the mafia isn’t the threat it used to be. In today’s world, racketeering allegations are still made even when there is no hint of organized crime or drug activity.
The easiest way to think about the racketeering statute is to think about it in general terms about what the law is intended to combat. Organized crime was difficult to prosecute prior to 1970 because, by its very nature, criminal syndicates acted as a multiheaded hydra. It was easy to see that a criminal enterprise was, as a whole, involved in illegal activities. However, it was difficult to prove that anyone, in particular, was behind the illegal actions.
For example, the government knew that certain enterprises were responsible for narcotic distribution, gambling, prostitution, etc. They also knew that these enterprises were responsible for violent crime to protect these lucrative businesses. But despite this knowledge, it was difficult for the government to prove who was responsible for what. Further, it was almost impossible for the government to prove that a particular person was in charge of other people. This insulated the criminal organization as a whole because if the government couldn’t isolate the actors from the group, they couldn’t take down the group.
What the RICO Act did was it basically made being a “gangster” punishable by up to 20 years in jail. This may sound overly simplistic, but think about how this law is different than other laws. Most laws prohibit certain activities, and if the government can prove you engaged in those activities, you go to jail. For example, the law says you can’t murder anyone. If the government can prove you murdered someone, you go to jail. Here though, RICO says you can’t engage in “racketeering.” What exactly is racketeering though? Whereas most laws target specific conduct, RICO targets behavior.
For a person to be convicted of racketeering, the federal government needs to prove that a person engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity that is connected to an illegal “enterprise.”
The RICO statute includes 35 kinds of crimes and if the person commits two of them within the course of 10 years and those two acts are connected to the enterprise, then the person is guilty of racketeering and faces up to 20 years in federal prison as well as a hefty fine and forfeiture of any businesses associated with the illegal activity.
For a full list of the 35 crimes, which are called “predicate acts,” consult the RICO statute or speak to a knowledgeable RICO lawyer in Manhattan. Needless to say though, the kinds of crimes that the predicate acts include are the kinds of crimes commonly associated with gang activity. For example, murder, promoting gambling, bribery and kidnapping are all on the list. So are different varieties of fraud.
Racketeering charges are very serious, and they must be met with an experienced RICO attorney in Manhattan.
Contact Konta Georges & Buza P.C. for a free consultation immediately if you are accused of violating the federal government’s very serious RICO statute. You can either call us at 212-710-5166 or contact us online.
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