The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act, passed in 1970, was originally designed as a way to prosecute mafia bosses, who did not personally commit crimes on a recurring basis, but who orchestrated them. For example, if a small business owner was required to pay the mob for "protection", the RICO Act allowed for prosecution of all the mafia bosses involved - not just the actual collector of such payments.
Today, enforcement of the RICO Act is used to prosecute a wide variety of individuals, businesses and political and ideological groups, who engage in a "pattern" of specified illegal activity. Insurance companies, stock brokers, Fortune 500 companies, and even environmental protest groups such as Greenpeace have all faced criminal RICO charges in recent years.
Those successfully convicted under the RICO Act, in either State of Florida or federal court, can face 20 years in prison, as well as the loss of all ownership and interests for any businesses involved. Furthermore, they may face civil RICO lawsuits from victims, who are entitled to triple damages.
Use our quick online form to schedule a free consultation.Schedule a Consultation
Tantamount to a RICO charge is a "pattern" of illegal activity, which the RICO Act defines broadly: two acts of the same crime in a 10-year period.
"Racketeering" is defined as an criminal activity that is performed to benefit an organization.
Crimes listed under the RICO Act include:
A RICO Prosecution can be brought in either U.S. Federal court or State court. Since Florida has its own statutes regarding murder, theft, fraud, embezzlement and other RICO-related crimes, RICO defendants in Florida may be facing stiffer penalties than a non-RICO conviction would impose.
While it is generally easier for a prosecutor to obtain convictions for criminal acts under non-RICO laws, a RICO claim may be necessary in order to prosecute those who did not personally engage in the crimes involved, and instead merely own or operate the criminal enterprise.
Learn more about former-prosecutor Mark Lippman.
If you are facing RICO charges in the Orlando, or Central Florida areas, contact our offices today or schedule an appointment via our Consultation Page.