The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) was enacted in 1970 as a part of the federal government’s attempt to contain organized crime. The legislation was initially aimed at bringing down various mafia families, but the statute has been interpreted broadly by the courts to include many different organizations far removed from street gangs or the mafia. The RICO statute does not create new crimes, but rather, creates harsher penalties and easier prosecution for existing state and federal crimes.
To obtain a conviction in a RICO prosecution, the government must prove that 1) a RICO enterprise exists, 2) the defendant committed two or more predicate acts, 3) the commission of the predicate acts constituted a pattern, and 4) the defendant either: invested in the enterprise through racketeering activity, acquired an interest in or maintained control over the enterprise through racketeering activity, or conducted the affairs of the enterprise through racketeering activity. A RICO enterprise can exist in any form from corporations to street gangs, and the predicate acts are merely a list of well known state and federal crimes, such as murder, wire fraud, drug trafficking, or embezzlement.
Punishments for a RICO violation can be harsh. The RICO statute carries a punishment of up to 20 years in Federal Prison, forfeiture of property associated with the RICO violation , and a civil law suit with attorney’s fees and treble damages. The RICO maximum of 20 years can be moved up if the underlying predicate act has a higher penalty, such as murder.
Odom, Davis & Hobson
The criminal defense attorneys at Odom, Davis & Hobson have handled numerous RICO cases over the last 40 years. In the 1970’s, Wendell Odom prosecuted the first RICO case in the Southern District of Texas. Our firm has defended numerous other RICO charges since that time. In 2012, our firm defended a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas against RICO allegations in the Southern District of Texas – Houston Division.
Our criminal defense lawyers understand the RICO statute, and how it is used by the federal government to heighten punishment for defendants operating in a corporation or other association. This understanding allows us to form an effective defense for these charges.
Contact us today to set up your consultation.