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What is a RICO violation?

 If you are an Ohio resident facing charges of having committed a RICO crime, you may well be at a loss as to what RICO is and what types of alleged criminal activity it applies to. Per the Offices of the United States Attorneys, RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, the federal statute passed by Congress in 1970 in order to seek out and eradicate organized crime such as those perpetrated by the Mafia.

RICO covers crimes affecting interstate and/or foreign commerce, including such things as mail fraud, bribery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, money laundering, obstruction of justice, gambling, and any other form of racketeering covered by Title 18 of the Federal Criminal Code.

RICO elements

For you to be convicted of committing a RICO crime, the government must prove the following five things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. An enterprise existed.
  2. The enterprise engaged in activities affecting interstate commerce.
  3. You are or were employed by the enterprise or otherwise associated with it.
  4. You and the enterprise were or are involved in a pattern of racketeering.
  5. You and the enterprise committed at least two racketeering acts within a 10-year period.

Enterprise

A RICO enterprise can be an individual, a corporation, a partnership, an association or any other type of legal entity. In addition, a RICO enterprise can be any group, formal or informal, of people who are associated in fact, whether in a legal entity or otherwise.

Pattern of racketeering

Racketeering activities are called predicates. The government must prove that all predicates allegedly committed by you and the entity were related, consisted of criminal acts, and pose a threat of future criminal activity. Predicates are deemed related if they are not isolated events, but rather have the following same or similar characteristics:

  • Purpose
  • Participants
  • Commission methods
  • Victims
  • Results

As to pattern, the government must prove that there was a continuity of criminal activity by you and the enterprise. Closed-end continuity can be proved if two predicates were committed within 10 years of each other. Open-end continuity can be proved if one or more predicates involved the distinct possibility, explicit or implicit, that racketeering activity will continue in the future. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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