Enacted to address offenses committed in conjunction with organized crime, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. § 1961) (RICO) is a complex law that encompasses 35 different criminal activities. Those charged under RICO face severe penalties. Because of the intricate nature of “predicate” crimes, including money laundering, an experienced attorney is critical. The Philadelphia-based team at Neff & Sedacca, PC has the expertise to handle these cases at the state and/or federal level.
Why is RICO so complex?
- Racketeering refers to activities that are part of an on-going criminal enterprise.
- The law defines 35 offenses at the state and federal level.
- State level crimes include gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, drug crimes, bribery, and extortion. (See below for current statute details.)
- Federal level crimes include money laundering, obstructing justice, murder for hire, sexual exploitation of children and mail, wire and various fraud offenses. (See below for current statute details.)
- RICO-related crimes are known as “predicate” offenses, or an activity that is a component of a larger crime.
- To charge under RICO, at least two predicate crimes must have been committed within 10 years through the enterprise.
- The RICO Act increases the severity of penalties for offenses charged under the statute.
One of the most common racketeering offenses is money laundering. In brief, it is the process of making funds generated from illegal activity appear to have been from a legitimate source. Because “cleaning” money generally includes multiple banking and commercial transactions, such cases are wrought with intricacies that are best handled by an experienced attorney.
The meaning of racketeering activity is defined by statute. As currently amended it includes:
- Any violation of state statutes against gambling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);
- Any act of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, and several other offenses covered under the Federal criminal code (Title 18);
- Embezzlement of union funds;
- Bankruptcy fraud or securities fraud;
- Drug trafficking;
- Criminal copyright infringement;
- Money laundering and related offenses;
- Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);
- Acts of terrorism.
If you believe that you are under investigation, have been subpoenaed before a grand jury or arrested and charged with a crime, contact Neff & Sedacca, PC for a confidential consultation by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email at info@NeffSedacca.com.