Things To Remember While Reading Excerpts From The Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations (rico) Act Of 1970:Excerpt from the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of (1970)
Excerpt from the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970
Reprinted from United States Statutes at Large, 1970–1971, Volume 84, Part 1
Published in 1971
Organized crime is defined as any group that has an organized structure of bosses, advisors, and committed working members whose key goal is to obtain money and property through illegal activities. Organized crime groups thrive on supplying goods and services that are not legally available but for which a large number of people are willing to pay. Gambling, prostitution, pornography, and dealing in illegal drugs have long been moneymakers for organized crime.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century drug trafficking was the largest illegal organized crime activity in the United States and worldwide. The term "trafficking" means dealing in illegal drugs—smuggling, buying with the intent to sell, and selling. The money received is called "dirty" money and needs to be "laundered." Money laundering means banking and investing the dirty money through a complicated series of financial networks until it can no longer be traced and appears to be legally earned or "clean" money invested in legal businesses. Money laundering is another key activity of organized crime groups.
From the late 1920s through the mid-1980s, U.S. organized crime was dominated by the American Mafia or mob
families, descendants of the Italian and Sicilian Mafia. Many families have become legendary. New York City was divided amongst the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese families. Approximately nineteen more prominent crime families were located in other U.S. cities. The highly popular movie The Godfather debuted in 1972 and popularized the notion of a secretive, tightly knit mob underworld.
To assist law enforcement in curtailing organized crime, the U.S. Congress passed the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The central part of the act is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) section. RICO defines the term racketeering as the act of participating in a pattern (more than one action) of criminal offenses commonly engaged in by organized crime. RICO makes it illegal to receive an income from a racketeering activity and sets punishments. RICO is law enforcement's most powerful tool against organized crime. During the 1980s and 1990s many bosses and members of organized crime were convicted and sent to prison under RICO.
Section 1961 of RICO lists many criminal offenses that fall under the definition of racketeering activity. Some of these include murder, kidnapping, illegal gambling, arson (intentionally setting a fire), robbery, bribery (promising a person money or a favor in return for certain action), extortion (threatening harm if one does not comply with a crime group's request or plan), dealing in obscene matter (pornography), smuggling aliens (moving illegal immigrants across the nation's borders); counterfeiting, embezzlement (to secretly steal money or property for one's own use), mail fraud (fake offers through the mail between different states), obstructing criminal investigations, prostitution, sexual exploitation of children, theft, drug trafficking, and money laundering.
Sec. 1962. Prohibited activities
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person who has received any income derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt in which such person has participated as a principal . . . to use or invest . . . any part of such income, or the proceeds of such income, in acquisition of any interest in, or the establishment or operation of, any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce. . . .
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise, which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to conspire to violate any of the provisions of subsections (a), (b), or (c) of this section.
Sec. 1963 Criminal penalties
(a) Whoever violates any provision of section 1962 of this chapter shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall forfeit to the United States (1) any interest he has acquired or maintained in violation of section 1962. . . .
(b) In any action brought by the Untied States under this section, the district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to enter such restraining orders or prohibitions . . . in connection with any property or other interest subject to forfeiture under this section, as it shall deem proper.
(c) Upon conviction of a person under this section, the court shall authorize the Attorney General to seize all property or other interest declared forfeited under this section upon such terms and conditions as the court shall deem proper. . . .
Sec. 1964. Civil remedies
(a) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of section 1962 of this chapter by issuing appropriate orders, including, but not limited to: ordering any person to divest himself of any interest, direct or indirect, in any enterprise; imposing reasonable restrictions on the future activities or investments of any person, including, but not limited to, prohibiting any person from engaging in the same type of endeavor as the enterprise engaged in, the activities of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or ordering dissolution or reorganization of any enterprise, making due provision for the rights of innocent persons.
(b) The Attorney General may institute proceedings under this section. In any action brought by the United States under this section, the court shall proceed as soon as practicable to the hearing and determination thereof. . . .
(c) Any person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of section 1962 of this chapter may sue therefore in any appropriate United States district court and shall recover threefold the damages he sustains and the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee.
(d) A final judgment . . . in favor of the United States in any criminal proceeding brought by the United States under this chapter shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of the criminal offense in any subsequent civil proceeding brought by the United States.
For More Information
Lunde, Paul. Organized Crime: An Inside Guide to the World's Most Successful Industry. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Lyman, Michael D., and Gary W. Potter. Organized Crime. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004.
Sullivan, Robert, ed. Mobsters and Gangsters: Organized Crime in America, from Al Capone to Tony Soprano. New York: Life Books, 2002.
Thompson, Hunter S. Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. New York: Modern Library, 1999.
"Gangsters and Outlaws." Court TV's Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods. http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters-outlaws-gmen.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).
"Investigative Programs: Organized Crime." Federal Bureau of Investigation. http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/orgcrime/ocshome.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).
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