Federal Racketeering (RICO) Attorney
RICO is a complex statute which requires many years of experience to properly and successfully utilize as a litigation tool. A federal RICO lawyer can work to determine whether you have a meritorious defense to a federal criminal RICO indictment or civil RICO claim, as well as determine whether your facts would support a civil RICO claim.
These same dedicated RICO lawyers will work tirelessly for clients seeking criminal defense to RICO indictments brought by the government. They are driven to provide the best possible service at a reasonable cost to clients who are seeking to bring a private RICO action, or who are seeking defense to a private RICO claim.
Our team can co-partner with other law firms that desire to bring or defend a RICO claim but perhaps lack the breadth and depth of knowledge required for litigating complex RICO cases.
A History of the Federal Racketeering Statute (RICO)
In layman’s terms, the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations statute (RICO) is a federal law that allows for significant criminal penalties and a civil cause for action for acts that are performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and therefore allows the alleged leaders of a criminal organization, or syndicate, to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to commit. RICO was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, and it is probably best known for its use to prosecute mob bosses who orchestrated Mafia-related crimes.
It has since become much more widely used by federal authorities as a powerful tool to combat a broad range of criminal activity, ranging from the previously discussed violent crimes to sophisticated fraud, bribery, money laundering, and extortion schemes. A companion statute, the “Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering” (VICAR) statute, proscribes violent crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and assaults.
Criminal and Civil RICO Law
RICO and VICAR are complex statutes which require many years of experience to properly and successfully litigate.
RICO also provides for private civil causes of action (18 U.S.C. sec. 1964(c)), and when properly used provides a potent tool to obtain treble (or triple) damages and attorney fees in business litigation. Specifically, the RICO statute provides for three different substantive violations as described in 18 U.S.C. section 1962(a) (b) and (c)(RICO substantive provisions), and 18 U.S.C. 1962(d) ( RICO conspiracy).
Section 1962(c) is the most commonly utilized substantive RICO provision and proscribes a RICO “person” from conducting the affairs of an enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce through a pattern of racketeering or through the alternate theory of collection of unlawful debt. For example, a RICO person who conducts the affairs of a legal entity or “association in fact” through multiple acts of mail and wire fraud may be found in violation of section 1962(c). And section 1962(d) makes it a crime to conspire to commit any of the three substantive offenses.
What is crucial for those accused of RICO offenses to understand is that it is not necessary for a RICO conspiracy defendant to personally conduct the affairs of an enterprise. Rather, the RICO defendant himself, i.e., the RICO “person,” needs only to agree with a defendant who is an operator or manager to conduct the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity for a court to find sufficient evidence for conviction or liability.
There are numerous possible defenses a skilled RICO practitioner can utilize to defeat a RICO claim. For example, the RICO “person,” particularly when a corporate defendant is alleged, may not be distinct from the enterprise; the pattern of racketeering activity may not sufficiently be “continuous,” or related to the enterprise; the criminal indictment may not adequately allege sentencing factors to sentence in excess of the statutory maximum; and the RICO complaint may not be pleaded with sufficient particularity when mail or wire fraud allegations are alleged.
There are other technical defenses to RICO claims — such as the “single-episode rule,” and the Reves “operation and management” test — which must be thoroughly understood in properly defending or bringing a RICO claim.
The Benefits of a Strong RICO Team
The firm’s team is extremely effective and efficient at reviewing complex files and understanding and identifying the relevant and ultimate issues in the case. Our team can effectively and efficiently analyze and solve labyrinthine legal problems and will enable any client to easily, and affordably, consider whether they should bring a civil RICO claim. The team has the knowledge, the experience, and the ability to complete projects in a timely manner and will work hard to provide their clients with exceptional legal service while focusing on sparing them the strain of any unnecessary costs.
Additionally, a civil RICO claim could be of invaluable benefit to clients when one considers the possibility for treble damages and awards of attorney fees and provisions.
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