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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

RICO: An Abridged Sketch

Charles Doyle
Senior Specialist in American Public Law

Congress enacted the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to “mobsters” or members of “organized crime” as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them. RICO proscribes no conduct that is not otherwise prohibited. Instead it enlarges the civil and criminal consequences, under some circumstances, of a list of state and federal crimes.

RICO condemns: (1) any person, (2) who (a) invests in, or (b) acquires or maintains an interest in, or (c) conducts or participates in the affairs of, or (d) conspires to invest in, acquire, or conduct the affairs of (3) an enterprise (4) which (a) engages in, or (b) whose activities affect, interstate or foreign commerce (5) through (a) the collection of an unlawful debt, or (b) the patterned commission of various state and federal crimes (“racketeering activities” sometimes referred to as “predicate offenses”). Violations are punishable by fines, forfeiture, and imprisonment for not more than 20 years or life if one of the predicate offenses carries such a penalty.

Civil RICO permits anyone injured in their business or property by a RICO violation to recover treble damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. In exceptional cases, at least at the behest of the government, the courts will enjoin further RICO violations, order divestiture, dissolution or reorganization, or restrict an offender’s future professional or investment activities. RICO comes with tailored provisions for venue and service of process, expedited judicial action in civil cases brought by the United States, in camera proceedings, and for the use of civil investigative demands.

This is an abridgement of a report, which with full citations, footnotes, and various appendices, appears as CRS Report 96-950, RICO: A Brief Sketch, by Charles Doyle.

Date of Report: December 7, 2012
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS20376
Price: $19.95

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