Federal Racketeering (RICO) Offenses

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed by the United States Congress on October 15, 1970 was revolutionary. Prior to the RICO Act, Federal prosecutors were unable to legally tie organized crime leaders to those committing the crimes. By passing RICO, those ordering crimes could be prosecuted along with those committing the crimes on their behalf. Furthermore, the RICO Act was designed to specifically target known organized crime such that 35 specific offenses were listed as elements for prosecution. If you are facing RICO charges, you need an attorney with experience in handling such cases.

What are FederalRacketeering (RICO) Offenses?

Federal Racketeering or RICO offenses present a pattern of criminal behavior spanning years and multiple persons. There are 35 specific crimes included in the RICO Act which combine to create a pattern of organized criminal behavior. Several of these Federal Racketeering/RICO offenses include…

  1. Gambling
  2. Murder
  3. Kidnapping
  4. Extortion
  5. Arson
  6. Robbery
  7. Bribery
  8. Dealing in obscene matter
  9. Dealing/trafficking a controlled substance or chemical
  10. Bribery
  11. Counterfeiting
  12. Theft
  13. Embezzlement
  14. Fraud
  15. Obstruction of justice
  16. Slavery
  17. Money laundering
  18. Commission of murder-for-hire
  19. Embezzlement of union funds
  20. Bankruptcy fraud or securities fraud
  21. Criminal copyright infringement
  22. Human smuggling
  23. Acts of terrorism

Under the current definition of the RICO Act, Federal RICO charges may be brought against anyone engaging in or ordering at least two of the above activities within a 10-year span. In addition, although the RICO Act was designed to target organized crime operations, charges have been brought against a number of high-profile persons and organizations not fitting that initial concept. For instance, RICO charges have been leveled against…

  • Pro-life Activists blocking abortion clinic entrances
  • The Catholic Church for sex abuse cases
  • Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
  • The Los Angeles Police Department
  • The Latin Kings
  • Major League Baseball
  • AccessHealthSource
  • Many more

In other words, no one is immune to the possibility of RICO charges, even on the thinnest shards of evidence. That is why if you are facing Federal RICO charges, you need to phone the Law Offices of Jason A Korner immediately.

What are the Penalties if Convicted of FederalRacketeering (RICO) Offenses?

Generally, those convicted of Federal Racketeering/RICO crimes are sentenced to a maximum 20 years and $25,000 fines per count. So for a Federal RICO case at least two offenses in a ten-year period must be charged and in many cases, far more specific charges are brought. Remember too that anyone facing Federal RICO charges will be facing other charges as well so that a loss of the case generally means spending the rest of one’s days in prison. That is why time is so important to fighting a RICO charge. The sooner you get started preparing your defense, the better your odds of beating the charges.

In addition, losing your RICO case can cost much more on the backside. Plaintiffs can use the outcome of the criminal trial to form the basis of a civil lawsuit. If such a case is lost, the cost is triple any damages claimed. For instance, if the case involved embezzlement of say, $100,000 then losing a civil RICO lawsuit will cost $300,000.

What Are Defenses to FederalRacketeering (RICO) Offenses?

RICO charges are conspiracy charges. As such, one may be inclined to believe that these charges are not easy to prosecute. Not necessarily.

Under the original guidelines, for a defendant to be found guilty of RICO charges, the Prosecutor would need to prove

  1. That there was a criminal enterprise/organization in place
  2. That interstate commerce was affected
  3. That the defendant had clear ties to the criminal organization and
  4. Engaged in a pattern of criminal activity defined as racketeering
  5. At least two such acts within a ten-year period were committed by or on behalf of the defendant.

As a general rule, Federal prosecutors do not charge RICO unless they have built a fairly strong case. However, there are always exceptions. Some of these include…

  • Charging someone with the underlying crimes is considered to provide penalties which are too weak for the crimes committed as combined
  • Multiple criminal acts have been committed in multiple jurisdictions such that RICO would be the natural bridge to tie them all together
  • Prosecution of the separate crimes would be impossible without RICO
  • The Federal government is seeking forfeiture of assets
  • Government or similar officials are involved which would make local prosecution impossible

Because of these reasons, it is vital to have an attorney on your side who understands RICO charges and how best to attack these. Every element of the government’s case must be put to the test. No portion of the charges can be permitted acceptance; all must be clearly and forcefully challenged.

Facing a FederalRacketeering (RICO) Offense? Call Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Korner Now!

Jason A Korner is an expert at Federal RICO charges. He will seek the holes in your racketeering case and exploit these to the fullest extent possible under the law. If you need to discuss an open case or even the possibility of a pending RICO case, call Jason Korner today at


Sources of Additional Information


Other Questions We Hear

What is a RICO?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO was passed in 1970 as a means by which the Federal government could combat organized crime. The act today is covered in 18 USC §§ 1961–1968 and provides the legal means by which prosecutors can identify and convict those who operate illegal businesses. Thus, “A RICO” is used when speaking of someone facing serious criminal charges related to organized crime and racketeering.

What is the definition of racketeering?

The United States Code 18:1961 lists 35 specific crimes which are considered “rackets.” A Racket is a dishonest service which is predicated by a need which has been created by those offering a solution. By way of example: protection money. Criminal elements create trouble in a neighborhood, causing shopkeepers to fear. The same criminal elements then approach the business owners and inform them that they will protect the business for a price. If the offer is refused, the business then has trouble. This is one of the most known organized crime rackets, but there are many others. These crimes make up the foundation for RICO charges.

What is a RICO claim?

In order to prosecute a person for the larger RICO crime, a RICO claim will often be made in order to establish a predicate act. A RICO claim cannot exist without some kind of criminal activity so in making the claim, a prosecutor or plaintiff is seeking to establish criminal activity prior to seeking formal and full RICO charges. If you or someone you know is facing a RICO claim, call Jason A Korner now. The sooner the smaller charge is eliminated the better. Without satisfying the RICO claim (the smaller charge) a larger RICO charge cannot be established.