Penalties for Federal RICO Charges in New York
Racketeering and organized crime charges in New York can lead to serious consequences. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law passed in 1970 that provides for criminal penalties and civil lawsuits for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. RICO charges are complex and require the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What is Racketeering?
Racketeering involves participating in a pattern of criminal activity or collection of unlawful debts as part of an organization or enterprise. Common racketeering activities include:
- Money laundering
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Securities fraud
- Obstruction of justice
- Witness tampering
To be convicted under RICO, the government must prove:
- At least two acts of racketeering were committed within 10 years of each other
- The defendant participated in an enterprise that engaged in racketeering
- The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to the enterprise
- The defendant committed at least two racketeering acts as part of the pattern
Federal RICO Charges
The RICO statute makes it a federal crime to:
- Use income derived from a pattern of racketeering to acquire an interest in an enterprise
- Acquire or maintain control over an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering
- Conduct or participate in the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering
An “enterprise” can include any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity. RICO charges often involve organized crime operations like the mafia, gangs, or other criminal organizations.
Examples of RICO cases in New York include:
- Four members of the Ski-Ball Gang charged with racketeering and gang-related shootings
- Sixteen members of the Own Every Dollar Gang charged with racketeering and drug trafficking
Penalties for Federal RICO Convictions
RICO carries stiff criminal penalties:
- Up to 20 years in prison per racketeering count
- Fines of up to $25,000 per count
- Forfeiture of any proceeds or interest maintained in the criminal enterprise
Defendants convicted of other crimes as part of the racketeering activities can also be sentenced for those offenses. For example, murder carries a potential life sentence.
In addition, RICO provides for civil lawsuits by victims against the racketeering enterprise to recover treble (triple) damages for financial harm. For example, a business that suffered losses due to racketeering could sue and collect three times their actual damages.
Racketeering Charges in New York
- Engaging in a pattern of criminal activity in concert with others
- Acquiring control or interest in a business through criminal activity
- Committing three criminal acts as part of a criminal enterprise
Penalties under New York law include up to 25 years in prison. As with federal law, other related crimes can lead to additional penalties.