The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. RICO was ordinarylaw.com/ enacted in 1970 to address the growing problem of organized crime in the United States.
RICO has two main components: criminal RICO and civil RICO. Criminal RICO provides for enhanced penalties for individuals who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity. Racketeering activity is defined as any of 35 predicate offenses, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking. To be convicted of criminal RICO, the government must prove that the defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity and that the racketeering activity was related to an enterprise.
Civil RICO allows private individuals and businesses to sue individuals and businesses that have engaged in racketeering activity. To be successful in a civil RICO lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity and that the plaintiff was injured by the racketeering activity.
RICO has been used to prosecute a wide range of individuals and businesses, including organized crime families, drug cartels, and white-collar criminals. RICO has also been used to bring civil lawsuits against companies that have engaged in fraudulent or deceptive business practices.
Here are some examples of how RICO has been used:
- In 1986, the government convicted John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime family, of criminal RICO. Gotti was sentenced to life in prison.
- In 1995, the government convicted Bernie Madoff, a Ponzi scheme operator, of criminal RICO. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
- In 2013, the government filed a civil RICO lawsuit against Bank of America, alleging that the bank engaged in fraudulent mortgage practices. The bank settled the lawsuit for $16.65 billion.
RICO is a powerful tool that can be used to combat organized crime and other forms of illegal activity. It is also a tool that can be used to protect victims of racketeering activity.