Definition of RICO
RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations and the civil and criminal penalties are set forth in 18 U.S.C. 1963 through 18 U.S.C. 1965. RICO is generally a violation of these Federal statutes which define RICO, provide for civil and criminal actions based on RICO and set the damage standard
Generally, RICO is not as complicated as people make it. RICO has received a bad name and is not much favored by the court’s because everybody wants to sue for RICO because it sounds menacing, however not that many actions are really RICO.
When you have and action for RICO, it is easy to see
Enterprise – There must be an enterprise, or association of individuals or corporations. Think of it as an enterprising group of individuals and you will remember what it stands for. It is the fact that the enterprise operates in an organized manner that allows it to cause such damage.
Common Plan – There must be some common objective of the enterprise, a common plan, scheme or artifice to defraud. The definition of the common plan sets the stage for defining the bad acts (predicate acts) that cause the enterprise to be liable, i.e. acts that help achieve the objective of the common plan.
Predicate Acts – This is a fancy word for identifying the acts of the members of the enterprise that are of the type that allows the federal government to regulate in this fashion. The most common of these acts are “mail fraud” – “wire fraud” – “bank fraud” “pension plan fraud.” The list of predicate acts is set forth in the definition of RICO. For example, if the U.S. mails are used to help further the common plan of conducting a gambling operation, predicate act of mail fraud is used would be where a criminal mails a letter to the victim, seeking to collect a gambling debt. The use of the U.S. mails US mails to help commit a fraud is the predicate ACT. Although the statute only requires two predicate acts in a ten year period preceding the action, there are requirements that there is a risk of continued ongoing harm In summary, RICO is an organization.