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Rico Act Essay

The RICO Act has been an important component in addressing organized and white collar crime. Write a five page (double-spaced) essay that summarizes the RICO Act and its impact on organized and white collar crime. Be sure to support your thoughts with information from our readings.

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Rico Act Essay The term “Rico Act” stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Codified as chapter 96, Title 18, of the United States Code which was passed by Congress in 1970. The purpose of the Act was to eliminate the ill-affects of organized crime on the nation’s economy.

The Rico Act provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows for the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing. It closed a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to commit a crime such as murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually do it or were physically involved.

Racketeering is defined as the process of forming or running an organization to operate or commit or otherwise execute ongoing criminal activities. For example the drug mafia planning and executing drug traffic in an organized manner. Such crimes are generally illegitimate business when a person commits crimes such as extortion, loan-sharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities.

The definition of a “racketeering activity” means any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. There are a number of illegal and prohibited activities listed in the act and are as follows: Prohibited activities listed in Section 1962 of the Rico Act. 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 within the meaning of section 2, title 18, United States Code, to use or invest, directly or indirectly, 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.

A purchase of securities on the open market for purposes of investment, and without the intention of controlling or participating in the control of the issuer, or of assisting another to do so, shall not be unlawful under this subsection if the securities of the issuer held by the purchaser, the members of his immediate family, and his or their accomplices in any pattern or racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt after such purchase do not amount in the aggregate to one percent of the outstanding securities of any one class, and do not confer, either in law or in fact, the power to elect one or more directors of the issuer. (b) It shall be unlawful for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of any 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 subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section. Under RICO, a person who is a member of an illegal enterprise or organization that has committed any two of 35 crimes including 27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes, within a 10-year period, can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity. RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil lawsuit and collect monetary damages. Despite its harsh provisions, a RICO-related charge is considered easy to prove in court, as it focuses on patterns of behavior as opposed to criminal acts. Although some of the RICO predicate acts are extortion and blackmail, one of the most successful applications of the RICO laws has been the ability to indict or sanction individuals for their behavior and actions committed against witnesses and victims in alleged retaliation or retribution for cooperating with federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Unfortunately, due to the complexity of bringing organized crime members to justice, ten years passed before the first RICO convictions were obtained. Throughout the 1970s crime families continually fought for power over the many racketeering enterprises that brought in huge sums of money. The National Conference on Organized Crime in 1975 estimated that mob related racketeering reached about $50 billion a year in the United States. An example of a popular case where the Rico Act was used to bring down a criminal organization was the numerous arrests of members of the Gambino Crime Family. The Carlo Gambino family was one of New York’s most powerful in the American Mafia.

It was successfully weakened by convictions obtained under the RICO Act of 1970. Under Gambino’s leadership, family rackets spread into new areas. Starting in the late ’50s, they engaged in large-scale drug trafficking. The Gambino and Lucchese families put a stranglehold on illegal activities at JFK International Airport, effectively boxing out all competition. Gambino bought into all kinds of legitimate businesses such as pizza parlors, meat markets, restaurants, construction companies, trucking firms, dress factories, and nightclubs, and used them as fronts to facilitate illegal operations. Battles for power and control between crime families resulted in numerous murders.

Members of one family would assassinate another’s boss. The family of the assassinated boss sought revenge by murdering a member of the offending family. Murders were also committed to prevent a crime member from testifying in a trial. The first convictions of American Mafia members under RICO began in 1980. Numerous gangsters were convicted for a variety of racketeering offenses. In 1985 the bosses of all five New York City Mafia families were convicted under RICO and each received at least one hundred years in prison. In 1992 Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano testified in court against his boss, John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family at that time.

In doing so he broke the sacred code of the Mafia, the code of silence barring every Mafia member from ever testifying against another Mafia member. Gotti was sentenced to life in prison. His brother Peter Gotti took over the family but was sentenced in April 2004 to nine years in prison. From our reading, we also learned that Rico can provide other benefits to local, county, state and federal law enforcement. As stated by Osterburg and Ward, page 632, “Through asset forfeiture provisions the government can confiscate money, houses, cars, boats, planes, electronics and weapons. This has not only impacted on the specific criminals targeted, but in many jurisdictions has been used as a means for law enforcement to expand their own efforts. In my own department, we use the proceeds from asset forfeitures to purchase vehicle equipment and bullet proof vests. Summary For decades, law enforcement strategies have focused on identifying and prosecuting the leaders of criminal enterprises. Members may be charged or arrested for relatively minor infractions. Charges for even small infractions can provide prosecutors with the leverage to conduct further investigations of the group. The goal is to get “smaller fish” to “flip” and testify against the heads of the organization. The ultimate aim is to disrupt the group as a whole. Since the inception of the Rico Act, thousands of arrests and convictions have been handed down against members of organized crime.

All five New York crime families have been disabled by Rico convictions and numerous other crime families have felt the sting. There has been mixed reviews on the total effectiveness of the Rico Act, but most will agree that there seems to be no end to organized crime and those willing to engage in criminal activity and enterprise. References www. ricoact. com/ricoact/nutshell. asp RICO – What Happened Next . . . – Crime, Family, Mafia, Families, Organized, and American http://law. jrank. org/pages/12394/RICO-What-happened-next. html#ixzz1XrNLl9Gg http://www. trutv. com/library/crime/gangster_outlaws/family_epics/gambino/3. html www. justice. gc. ca/eng/pi/rs/rep-rap/2005/rr05_5/p5. html. Osterburg and Ward. , Criminal Investigations, A Method for Reconstructing the