An Introduction to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Although it has been around since 1970, you might not be aware of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This act was originally created to help combat organized crime and organized crime-related activities. Many businesses do not have to worry about whether or not they are violating the RICO Act. However, it’s always good to understand the law, and this is a law that has been applied more broadly over the years. Here’s a brief overview of the RICO Act.

What Is the RICO Act?

The RICO Act allows prosecution and civil penalties for ongoing racketeering activity. Racketeering can include acts such as:

  • Illegal gambling
  • Bribery
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Money laundering
  • Embezzlement
  • Drug trafficking
  • Slavery
  • And more

Although this list of unsavory activities is long, it is by no means all-inclusive. Most other gang-related activities may also count as racketeering. However, in order for the government to press charges, they have to be able to prove that the individual participated in the illegal activity two or more times. This shows that the individual has participated in ongoing illegal activity. It’s not just one person making a bad decision once. These are people who have decided to participate in criminal activity on a regular basis.

What Happens If You Have Been Convicted of Racketeering?

Although gang members and criminals are being charged with racketeering every day, the most notable recent case of racketeering charges came when a large number of celebrities and wealthy parents were charged with this crime. It was revealed that these parents paid extra money – a bribe – for their children to be admitted to certain universities.

Because bribery is illegal, those parents who are convicted will have to face the consequences. So, what exactly will happen to them? For these parents, it’s likely that they will receive a substantial fine or will serve a short time in prison. For individuals who commit some of the more severe crimes such as drug trafficking, slavery, or murder; the punishment will be much more severe.

The law states that the judge can impose a fine and/or a prison sentence. The prison sentence is based on the crime committed. For example, if you committed murder, it’s possible that you could be facing a life sentence. On the other hand, someone who participated in illegal gambling would probably face a prison sentence that didn’t exceed 10 or 20 years.

Although both might be charged and found guilty under the RICO Act, the sentences and punishments would be different depending on the underlying crime(s).

Does Your Business Need Help?

If you are ever unsure if something your business is doing is illegal, ask your business lawyer. At Cove Law, our qualified attorneys can answer your questions and help guide you to ensure you don’t end up with criminal charges. Give us a call today at (954) 921-1121 or contact us online to learn how we can help.

Written by Andrew Cove

Cove Law has significant experience defending federal investigations and formal actions by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Finance Protection Board and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as similar matters on the state level by the respective state Attorney General’s Offices and other local agencies.