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In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  The law was passed in an effort to fight against organized crime, principally the Mafia.  Since then, it has been used to attack any type of organization that engages in “racketeering activity,” from corporations to corrupt police departments and street and motorcycle gangs.

Therefore, it is unlawful for any individual acting for or on behalf of any enterprise to engage in a “pattern of racketeering activity.”   

An "enterprise" is defined as including any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.   Recently, the federal government has used the RICO statute to attempt to dismantle street gangs such as the Mexican Mafia and other gangs who are alleged to be engaging in drug trafficking, violent crimes, and other offenses.

“Racketeering activities” are federal and state crimes that exist independently of the RICO statute.  They include homicide, kidnapping, extortion, and witness tampering. Racketeering activities also include property crimes such as robbery and arson. Many white-collar crimes are also listed, such as money laundering, counterfeiting, securities violations, as well as mail and wire fraud.

The statute prescribes a maximum sentence of 20 years.

This area of the law is extremely complex and defending it requires a thorough understanding of the RICO statute, its defenses, as well as a well-planned investigation by the defense team.   Mr. Severo is a veteran in the defense of criminal RICO, and he has assisted civil litigators in defending civil RICO actions.

Violence Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) is a federal statute intended to prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes for the benefit of a gang or any other "racketeering enterprise."   Murder, kidnapping, assault with great bodily injury and other crimes are punished under this section.   Sentences for this crime can range from three years for lesser crimes to as high as death or life imprisonment for murder or kidnapping.

If you are caught up in a RICO or VICAR case, you need a lawyer with thorough experience in trial work.   You cannot entrust your life to anyone with any less experience.

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