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RICO crimes are organized crime violations that fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, otherwise known as the RICO. Act. This act was enacted in 1978 by Congress as a means for law enforcement to undercut organized crime. The government created RICO laws because prosecuting, and convicting individuals at the head of “rackets” and organized crime rings was extremely challenging.
While racketeering refers to someone running an illegal business, RICO laws also cover the unlawful use of legitimate companies to engage in criminal acts, such as embezzlement, money laundering, and other white-collar crimes.
North Carolina Racketeering Laws
While racketeering is often prosecuted on the federal level, North Carolina has laws that prohibit racketeering, defined in the North Carolina General Statutes 1475D and 14-75D-3(c). Under these laws, North Carolina requires that the criminal enterprise engages in at least two incidents of racketeering that are interrelated.
Types of Federal RICO Crimes
Under the RICO Act, federal charges include patterns of racketeering activity. To be charged with a violation of the RICO Act, prosecutors don’t need to show that you personally committed a crime but rather that you engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to a criminal enterprise.
If a prosecutor would seeks to convict an individual of racketeering or organized crime, the RICO Act requires they prove that:
- The person owned or managed an organization.
- The organization regularly performed or engaged in illegal actions.
“Racketeering” is defined very broadly in the act, which includes 35 separate offenses as possible examples. The individual who is charged must have at least two of such activity. Some examples include:
- Dealing in a controlled substance
- Financial Institution Fraud
- Obstruction of justice
- Trafficking of persons
- Dealing in obscene material
- Drug trafficking
- Money laundering
- Acts of terrorism
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Securities fraud
The above list is not comprehensive, as the crimes for RICO charges span a wide range of criminal activities and include white-collar crimes.
RICO is a federal criminal offense and those accused face serious criminal allegations that could land them in prison for many years if they are convicted. A conviction can result in fines of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in federal prison.
These penalties apply to each count, and prosecutors often charge multiple counts per defendant. Penalties associated with RICO violations are usually in addition to penalties associated with underlying crimes. The forfeiture of assets and restitution to the victims is also common.
Contact Us Today
Many people being investigated for RICO crimes often make the mistake of attempting to explain their conduct. This often leads them to betray their own interests when speaking with law enforcement. The criminal defense attorneys at Dysart Willis are knowledgeable and experienced in federal criminal defense, and have experience handling federal RICO cases and there’s no substitute for legal counsel as soon as possible. If you’ve been arrested for RICO charges or are under investigation, call 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.