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Federal RICO Defense Attorney

Do You Need a Federal RICO Defense Attorney?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was passed in 1970. It gave law enforcement the leverage to take on organized crime and contain it. If the prosecution can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants participated in and profited from criminal activities, they can then apply those charges to the RICO Act.

What Is Racketeering?

Illegal businesses are called rackets. Broadly speaking, racketeering means:

  • Acquiring a business through crimes like extortion
  • Using illegally-derived money to run a legitimate business
  • Using legally-derived money to run a criminal enterprise
  • Using a business as a front for a criminal operation

Common rackets include human trafficking, prostitution, drug trafficking, illegal weapons trade and counterfeiting.

Racketeering is prosecuted at both the state and federal levels. If you have profited because of racketeering activities, then the RICO Act may apply to you.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

Which Crimes Are RICO Violations?

Here are some examples of racketeering at the federal level:

  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Running an illegal gambling operation
  • Money laundering
  • White collar crime
  • Financial and economic crime
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Murder for hire
  • Obstruction of justice

Here are some examples of racketeering at the state level:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Extortion
  • Kidnapping
  • Gambling
  • Bribery
  • Drug crimes
  • Robbery
  • Pornography

Racketeering is at play when cybercriminals take over your computer and lock you out until you pay a ransom. Fencing rackets involve thieves who steal property and sell it to intermediaries on the cheap. The intermediaries then resell the goods to unsuspecting buyers at a sizeable profit.

Protection rackets involve threatening someone with harm unless they pay for protection. Kidnapping rackets involve stealing individuals and setting them free only after a ransom is paid.

Corporations can be as guilty of racketeering as career criminals. A pharmaceutical company might disburse financial incentives to physicians who push the company’s drugs. This profits both the physician and the pharmaceutical company while defrauding patients and their insurance companies.

How Does The RICO Act Work?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) requires the prosecution to prove certain things beyond a reasonable doubt before the defendants can be found guilty of violating the RICO statute:

  • An enterprise existed.
  • That enterprise conducted business across state lines.
  • The defendant was either employed by or associating with a criminal operation.
  • The defendant engaged in racketeering and participated in at least two separate racketeering activities.

Why Was the RICO Act Passed?

RICO was initially enacted to help law enforcement crack down on organized crime and other criminal enterprises. With RICO, prosecutors could sue an entire racket at once instead of trying individual racketeers separately.

Prosecutors can now seize the assets of indicted individuals and prevent them from moving funds and properties through shell companies. The ringleaders may be charged with crimes they compel others to commit.

Defendants can be charged through RICO after two acts of racketeering activity. One act must have occurred after 1970 when the Act was made law. The second act must have occurred within 10 years of the first act.

If convicted, the defendants can receive 20 years or more in prison and crippling fines for each count of racketeering activity. Federal racketeering crimes can be prosecuted at both the state and federal levels. Federal crime sentences are more severe than those imposed by the state.

Has the RICO Act Been Effective?

The RICO Act has helped law enforcement to reduce the incidence of racketeering and organized crime in the U.S. Prosecutors can effectively target criminal enterprises as well as their leaders, even if those leaders had other individuals commit crimes for them.

When Do You Need a RICO Defense Attorney?

If you have been charged with a RICO violation, contact an experienced federal racketeering (RICO) lawyer at once. RICO violations are probably the most serious and dangerous charges you can face. They are also the most challenging charges to defend in court.

Because your assets can be frozen and seized, financial hardship can make matters significantly worse. The prosecutors don’t have to prove that you committed a crime. They only need to show that you engaged in activities related to a crime.

RICO defenses are similar to those employed in federal drug conspiracy charges. Your attorney can prove your factual innocence, show that the prosecution’s evidence against you is not enough to prove that you are guilty, expose an illegal police procedure or show that you were unaware of any criminal activity.

Federal Racketeering RICO Attorney

This is a complex statute which requires many years of experience in order to properly handle. Federal RICO lawyers you speak to must be able to demonstrate that they can handle your federal criminal RICO indictment, or civil RICO claim. Many attorneys think they can handle a RICO claim, but have zero experience – and have no understanding of the statutes.

The RICO law addresses all forms of organized crime, and sometimes can be used to go after legitimate companies that are involved in legitimate business. The fact is, RICO can be used across the board to distress legitimate businesses, and can result in criminal charges, severe financial fines, in addition to tarnishing your reputation, and can also result in lengthy prison times.

The RICO Act encompasses a bunch of different crimes such as bribery, securities fraud, drug crimes, sex offenses, illegal gambling, and more. In order to secure a conviction, prosecutors will try to find evidence that the defendant committed two of the listed crimes, or two counts of a single crime, within a period of time.

RICO Conspiracy

This is a powerful tool used by prosecutors. Under Section 1962 of Title 18 U.S.C., it’s a crime to conspire to break any of the Act’s provisions. There is a difference between RICO conspiracy and general federal conspiracy. Under the general federal statute, it’s a crime if you agree with others to commit a crime – but the agreement should have the same objective. The general conspiracy statute is not as effective as the RICO conspiracy statute.

What are the requirements for federal RICO charges?

Under 18 USC 1962, there are four main violations which can be charged. The most common ground under which a RICO charge will be filed is through 1962(c). The section says it’s unlawful for the employee, or associate, of an enterprise to participate in a pattern of racketeering. In short, a RICO violation happens when a person employed or associated with a company/enterprise, where the activities of the company/enterprise participate directly or indirectly in the enterprise. These activities form a pattern of unlawful racketeering activities.

  • Subsection 1962(a) – money laundering
  • Subsection 1962(b) – loan sharking
  • Subsection 1962(d) – conspiracy

If you’re convicted of a criminal offense under RICO, the maximum punishment for a single violation is a 20 year prison sentence, and a fine of $250,000 or 2x the ill-gotten gains. If certain offenses were involved, then the prison sentence can be changed to life in prison. RICO also permits the forfeiture of property gained due to the crime, or any interest in the enterprise.

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Primarily enacted as a criminal statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (RICO) includes a civil provision within Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. This section authorizes private treble-damage actions, which permits courts to award three time the amount of damages that a plaintiff requests.

For years since the passing of this law, the civil provision has rarely been used. However, claims are being filed to use this provision in contexts that are far removed from the original vision of addressing racketeering and organized crime.

What is RICO Law?

RICO law is the prosecution and defense of individuals who participate in organized crime activities. The law was passed by Congress in 1970 as a way to combat Mafia groups. Since that time, the legal system has expanded the law. Now, it is also used to go after other organizations from motorcycle gangs to corrupt police departments.

One thing that distinguishes RICO from other criminal or civil laws is the way it is applied. Rather than pursue an isolated criminal act, prosecutors look for a pattern of wrongdoing among individuals who are members of a criminal enterprise.

The collection of RICO laws include severe consequences when the economic activities of criminal organizations involve illegal activity, known as racketeering. Being convicted for a RICO violation includes heavy fines, financial restitution for victims and up to 20 years in prison. Conviction also calls for the dissolution of the organization.

The following crimes qualify as racketeering and are listed in federal and state statutes:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Drug trafficking
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Gambling
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Theft

Anyone who is injured by a RICO violation, whether it is their business or property, may file a civil suit. They have the right to seek a compulsory award that is three times the damages, costs and attorney’s fees for the lawsuit.

Proving a Civil RICO Claim

To have a successful civil RICO claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove two thing:

  1. The plaintiff suffered an injury to his or her business or property
  2. The injury was closely caused because the defendant violated the RICO statute

Being a defendant in a civil RICO claim does not mean that you were also criminally convicted. However, the plaintiff must prove there was concrete financial loss.

Elements of a RICO Claim

Liability for a violation of RICO requires the individual to be involved in an organization that has a pattern of racketeering activity. To prove this, there are specific elements that apply: enterprise, predicate acts, a pattern of racketeering activity and continuity.


Determining the enterprise is the first step for a RICO case. The enterprise involved in a RICO claim can either be legitimate or illegitimate. Additionally, it may also be a loosely associated group or a corporate entity.

Other technicalities such as defendant/enterprise distinction and the essential connection to predicate acts must be part of the plaintiff’s strategy. A defense attorney will attempt to deconstruct an alleged enterprise that does not meet the terms of the technicalities.

Predicate Acts

Predicate acts is another element required in all RICO claims. These acts of racketeering activities are independently illegal crimes. Some of the offenses include in this group are:

  • Bribery
  • Extortion
  • Kickback
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Illegal gambling

The plaintiff must define predicate acts while also making sure the actions occurred within the statute of limitation period. An attorney for the defendant must question whether certain predicates were sufficiently pled according to Rule 9(b) of the federal law’s Rules of Civil Procedure. In the past, Rico has been used to even go after companies that do payday loans and cash advances.

Pattern of Racketeering Activity

For a RICO claim to be successful, predicate acts of racketeering must form a pattern where more than two acts occurred. Generally, the alleged enterprise must have committed the predicate acts or proceeds from those acts were invested into the enterprise.


Another element, continuity, means the activity is ongoing or has occurred over a substantial amount of time. There are several way for this to be established, including the fact that racketeering is the enterprise’s way of conducting business.

Why Spodek Law Group, PC is Right for Your Case

Not every lawyer can handle the intricacies of RICO law to build a successful defense for their client. At Spodek Law Group, PC, we know RICO law and we know what it takes to overcome a civil action. Contact our firm today so we can have the opportunity to help you.

Fifth Amendment and RICO Cases

The Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination presents a difficult dilemma for a civil RICO defendant. If he takes the Fifth, a presumption arises in the civil case that his testimony, if truthfully given, would be against his interests. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis declared, speaking for a unanimous court in United States ex. rel. Bilokumsky v. Tod, 263 U.S. 149, 153-54 (1923). “Silence is often evidence of the most persuasive character.” This follows the long ago established common law rule that suppression of evidence is an “admission by conduct” that the evidence would be unfavorable to the person responsible for its unavailability. There are a number of reasons that the law allows the finder of fact to draw a negative inference from a defendant’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment in a civil case. Most importantly, allowing the defendant-witness to exclude incriminating information undermines the fact finder’s search for the truth. If the privilege was allowed to be invoked without penalty in a civil case, the privilege places the private RICO plaintiff at a severe disadvantage. This is especially true in RICO cases where civil liability arises from criminal conduct. The incantation of “I refuse to answer pursuant to my Fifth Amendment privilege. . .” precludes discovery and frustrates the truth-determining capacity of the litigation process.

On the other hand, if the defendant has potential liability for plaintiff’s claims and he doesn’t take the Fifth, he may end up giving the criminal prosecutor all the evidence he needs to send him to prison.

This dilemma faces every civil RICO defendant, if he has not already been criminally prosecuted. Every one familiar with the O.J. Simpson case knows that even an acquittal in a criminal case doesn’t mean the defendant is home free. The evidence developed in a criminal RICO case can make the civil RICO case much easier because the burden of proof in the civil case is typically by a preponderance of the evidence. The beyond a reasonable doubt burden simply doesn’t apply. In some states, including Idaho, fraud must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, which although a heavier burden than the preponderance standard, it is much less than beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the other side of the coin, a successful civil RICO prosecution can lead to a criminal prosecution. My last plaintiff’s RICO case, which we settled very advantageously, led to a grand jury indictment for embezzlement and related crimes. The prosecutor was happy to have all of the forensic accounting evidence we developed in the civil case demonstrating that the defendant had embezzled nearly $1 million over a 15-year period.


A Brief Overview of RICO Cases

In October 1970, the 91st United States Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. It was primarily aimed at thwarting prominent crime families such as the Gambino and Bonanno families, but since its inception, RICO has been used in all kinds of cases relating to organized criminal enterprises.

While RICO began as a solely-federal statute, 33 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have since adopted similar laws to combat racketeering. Thus, RICO cases are no longer limited to federal courts.

What does it take to charge people under RICO?

To convict a defendant of racketeering under RICO, prosecutors must prove that a defendant violated at least two predicate offenses covered by the statute within a ten-year period. Most of these predicate offenses are serious felonies by themselves. They include:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal copyright infringement
  • Gambling offenses
  • Bribery
  • Extortion
  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering

This list is not exhaustive, but it demonstrates well the general idea. Since 1970, there have been some fascinating RICO cases, most of which did not involve traditional Italian crime families.

Famous RICO cases

The Montreal Expos and Major League Baseball

In July 2002, 14 Canadian companies accused Bud Selig, the MLB Commissioner, and Jeffrey Loria, the former owner of the Expos, of plotting to devalue the team for financial gain prior to its move to Washington. Neither man was criminally charged, but the RICO statute does contain a civil provision that allows parties injured by RICO violations to seek punitive damages. The case was eventually settled via arbitration, during which the MLB received a favorable ruling.

United States v. Scott W. Rothstein

In 2010, Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion ponzi scheme, the largest in Florida’s history, finally unraveled, and Rothstein was arrested on federal racketeering charges. The prosecution subsequently offered him an agreeable plea bargain in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation. Unfortunately for Rothstein

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