RICO Act


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RICO Act

When Congress passed an act against racketeering, they should have foreseen that one little section of the legislation created an opening for unscrupulous attorneys to form rackets of their own.

In 1970, in an effort to stem organized crime’s effect on the national economy, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). “Organized crime” was a euphemism for the Mafia, and in essence RICO was created in order to destroy the power of the various Mafia “families” and to prevent them from gaining control over legitimate business enterprises. Throughout the 1970s RICO was seldom invoked except in the crackdown on the Mafia.

Then, in the 1980s, a number of civil attorneys took notice of the far-reaching implications of section 1964c of RICO. Taking into consideration the fact that certain individuals could be injured in their business or property by reason of a RICO violation, the framers of RICO decreed that any person who could establish a civil RICO claim would automatically receive judgment in the amount of three times the actual damages and would also be awarded attorney’s fees and other costs that may have been incurred. Across the United States certain civil attorneys decided that RICO could bring them a financial windfall. Given an adroit spin, any number of civil claims, such as for fraud, breach of contract, or product defect, could be interpreted as RICO violations. In addition, when Congress passed the law, it included wire and mail fraud as criminal acts on which a RICO claim could be brought. This was frosting on the cake for greedy civil attorneys, who had little difficulty in depicting almost any criminal deed as mail or wire fraud. By the end of the decade RICO was the most commonly asserted claim in federal court.

During the 1990s the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court severely limited the types of cases that could be brought under RICO in a civil context. Today civil litigants must pass many legal tests before they can expect to reap the financial rewards once available under RICO. Claims against the Mafia are seldom applied, but RICO can be brought against political protest groups, terrorist organizations, and businesses.

References in periodicals archive ?
States must expand the applicability of the RICO Act to ensure
Although the RICO Act and material support statute provide prosecutors the wide-ranging authority that they need to halt incipient plots, their broad sweep can also cause them to conflate support for local groups with participation in a global insurgency.
Although the original purpose of the RICO Act was to eliminate "the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce" (2) the statute had been broadened to encompass illegal activities relating to any enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
Describe the legal aspects of theft, and conspiracy to commit a crime (the RICO act).
Because the RICO Act ostensibly was aimed at "organized crime," it was perceived as targeting certain ethnic groups.
We're going to stop them in their tracks." MetLife has several other fraud cases pending in state courts, all brought under the RICO act. The company is increasingly relying upon the RICO act as an effective method for fighting fraud, and it is a strategy also being used by other insurers such as Progressive and All-State, according to David Hammarstrom of MetLife.
When the federal government used the RICO act - officially, the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - against white collar criminals on Wall Street, major editorial pages questioned whether this was an appropriate use of a statute originally designed to fight the Mafia and other "scurvy hoodlums," in the words of the New York Times.
(9) The case also deals with employee theft, specifically credit card fraud and embezzlement, as well as conspiracy to commit a crime (the RICO act) (10)--students may benefit from a review of this material.
In the original lawsuit, the Wu Family and its numerous associated corporations were found liable for $41.2 million on more than one dozen counts, including theft of trade secrets, fraud, violations of Florida's RICO Act, negligent destruction of evidence and civil thefts.
The RICO Act, enacted in 1970 to target organized crime, was not intended as a vehicle to restrict political activity or expression.
895 (1997), the Florida RICO Act; or 4) any violation of F.S.
When Congress passed the RICO Act in 1970, it included a civil cause of action but no statute of limitations.