RICO LAW PENNSYLVANIA
RICO stands for the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act" (RICO). This law was originally designed to fight the organized crime like the Mafia, "La Cosa Nostra", and other crime "families". Since was enacted it has been redefined to target other types of criminal organizations such as street gangs, drug traffickers and in more recent times, legitimate businesses. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows for the leaders of criminal enterprise to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them.
RICOis a United States federal law and it provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
RICO charges apply to racketeering activity and include:
- Gambling , murder, kidnapping , extortion , arson , robbery , bribery, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);
- Acts of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire,
- Embezzlement of union funds;
- Bankruptcyfraud or securities fraud;
- Drug trafficking;
- Money launderingand related offenses;
- Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);
- Acts of terrorism.
Under federal law, the government can seize assets and property believed to be acquired through illegal activities. These forfeiture proceedings are civil matters and occur independently of the criminal case. In RICO and money laundering cases, the government initiates a criminal forfeiture proceeding in an attempt to make it even more difficult for the accused mount a defense.
The maximum penalties may include fines up to $25,000 and up to prison terms of up to 20 years in addition to the forfeiture of all business interests and gains determined to be from the criminal activity. Additionally, cases can be re-tried in civil court with plaintiffs permitted to sue for triple damages.
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Michael N. Kotik, Esq. (PA, NJ)