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Federal Criminal RICO Attorney

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Section 1961(1) defines “racketeering activity” as any crime enumerated in subdivisions A-G. Section 1961(1)(A) defines racketeering activity as any act or threats involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance which is chargeable under state law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. The term “involving” has been interpreted broadly to include conspiracies, solicitations, or attempts to commit subdivision A and D crimes as proper RICO predicates. A state statutory offense may constitute a proper RICO predicate act even, for example, if it is not labeled as a specific activity — such as “extortion” — and provided it substantially conforms to the “generic” definition of the state offense referenced in Section 1961(1)(A) and that prevailed in 1970 when RICO was enacted. Moreover, the language “punishable by imprisonment for more than one year” means punishable at the time the offense was committed, not at the time the RICO indictment is brought. Because of these complex variations, it is critical that anyone who is being investigated for criminal RICO activities or who has been charged with a criminal RICO offense immediately seek the counsel of a criminal RICO lawyer. To further understand some of the basic principles of criminal RICO law, please read on.

Racketeering Activity

Section 1961(1)(B) defines racketeering activity as “any act which is indictable under” any of a list of federal criminal statutes. The word “indictable” has been interpreted to only allow the charging of attempts and conspiracies that are expressly included within the terms of the statute. For example, a conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. section 1951 is a RICO predicate because section 1951(a) expressly makes conspiracy a crime. The list of federal crimes included in section 1961(1)(B) is extensive and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bribery;
  • Counterfeiting;
  • Theft from interstate shipments;
  • Embezzlement from pension and welfare plans;
  • Identification fraud;
  • Obstruction of justice;
  • Passport fraud;
  • Extortion;
  • Money laundering;
  • Mail and wire fraud; and,
  • Trafficking in certain motor vehicles and motor parts.

RICO also provides for other federal predicate crimes in subdivisions (1)(C), (D), (E), (F), and (G). These predicates include:

  • Fraud in the sale of securities
  • Drug distribution
  • Currency violations
  • Immigration violations
  • And other acts indictable under certain terrorism statutes.

Criminal RICO prosecutions have more recently focused on multi-national gangs which are organized and conduct a wide variety of federal crimes. These crimes include drug distribution, threats and acts involving murder, extortion, and money laundering. Because the government will usually charge a large number of individuals and the proof will vary significantly by defendant, a dedicated RICO attorney is an accused individual’s best option for identifying those defendants who may have been improperly charged with RICO, VICAR, or RICO conspiracy. Moreover, because the Supreme Court requires that any fact that increases the statutory maximum for a defendant be pleaded and submitted to the jury, a well-qualified criminal RICO attorney may be able to limit a potential defendant’s sentence to the 20-year RICO maximum.

RICO Criminal Violations (White-Collar Crimes)

The many and varied RICO predicate crimes include those used against so-called “white-collar” criminals. These predicate crimes include:

  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Color of official right extortion
  • State and federal bribery
  • Embezzlement from employee benefit plans
  • Financial institution fraud
  • Improper payments from employers to labor organizations
  • And illegal gambling operations.

As a result, criminal RICO prosecutions have focused on complex fraud schemes and public corruption prosecutions. For example, RICO has proved to be a powerful tool in prosecuting public officials because state crimes involving bribery may serve as RICO predicates. A dedicated criminal RICO lawyer will not only understand the unique nature of fraud schemes and public corruption accusations, he will also possess the necessary experience to provide the strongest possible defense against these types of federal criminal charges.

Criminal RICO Lawyers

A well-qualified RICO attorney will have reviewed many RICO indictments naming state and local officials with predicate acts of honest service fraud, color of official right extortion, and other predicate offenses and use that extensive experience to provide exceptional representation with regard to clients charged with such crimes. Though no attorney can guarantee their client a favorable outcome in their case, that kind of experience can make all the difference when it comes to fighting such allegations both inside and outside the courtroom. To do so, however, takes a great deal of preparation and work. It is extremely important that anyone facing such crimes, whether they have been charged or are under investigation, contact a dedicated criminal RICO lawyer immediately so that their lawyer can begin deciphering their case and building a strong legal strategy. Contact the firm today for a free consultation.