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
6) Because of the similarities between Florida and federal RICO acts, Florida looks to federal authority regarding the interpretation and application of its act.
The wide-ranging authority and discretion granted to prosecutors through the RICO Act and the material support to terrorism statutes, and to the military through the AUMF, risk inadvertently furthering Al Qaeda's goals by aggregating local guerilla groups with a global insurgency.
If you have been injured by a violation of the RICO Act, you may sue the person who allegedly violated the Act and, if successful, recover a monetary award equivalent to three times the value of the property you lost or that was stolen from you, plus the legal costs and fees you incurred to bring the lawsuit.
Because the RICO Act ostensibly was aimed at "organized crime," it was perceived as targeting certain ethnic groups.
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.
But the RICO act is also being invoked in civil suits against Operation Rescue (and other abortion protesters), and while the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and a half-dozen or so medium-sized newspapers have editorialized against this, most of the major papers - the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune - have ignored it.
Ockene is currently being sued in federal court for conspiracy under the RICO Act as described below.
With more than 12 years of experience in both the private and public sector, Hostin has conducted numerous white collar crime investigations, prosecuted and defended fraud claims, and prosecuted RICO Act cases.
The compensatory damages are expected to be in the range of $120 billion to $200 billion and, since the lawsuit was filed under the RICO Act, the estimated damages can be tripled up to $600 billion.
Federal Court of the State of Washington under the RICO Act ("Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act"), in order to fully assert its rights to the PTC shares and recover damages for the harm it has suffered.
In the same letter, the US Attorney also advised that if Ravelston were convicted of an offence under the RICO Act wherein the "racketeering enterprise" was Hollinger International, the United States courts could, among other things, order that Ravelston forfeit, effective retroactively to 1999 (being the date of the alleged offences), to the United States Department of Justice (the "US DOJ") its direct and indirect interests in Hollinger International, namely the Hollinger Shares.