Should federal prosecutors charge you with allegedly committing a RICO violation in Louisiana, you could be facing multiple individual charges as part of the overall prosecution. Per the Department of Justice, RICO is the acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act that Congress passed back in 1970 to combat Mafia racketeering.

Since then, however, RICO’s scope has expanded to include prosecution of various non-Mafia white collar crimes including the following:

  • Embezzlement
  • Mail fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Counterfeiting
  • Bribery

Proving RICO charges

Whatever specific RICO violation(s) the government alleges you committed, in order to convict you the prosecutor must prove the following five things:

  1. That an enterprise was involved in the scheme
  2. That you somehow associated yourself with the enterprise
  3. That together, you and the enterprise performed predicates, i.e., illegal acts, affecting interstate commerce
  4. That the enterprise and you committed at least two such predicates within a 10-year period
  5. That the enterprise and you engaged in a racketeering pattern

Defining the enterprise

“Enterprise” constitutes a very broad term per the RICO statutes. Not only can a partnership, corporation, LLC or other traditional business be an enterprise, so can any organization, formal or informal, with which you associate as an employee or otherwise in order to accomplish an illegal purpose.

Defining the racketeering pattern

When it comes to proving a racketeering pattern, the prosecutor has two choices: proving a closed-end pattern or proving an open-ended pattern. For a closed-end pattern, the evidence must show that the enterprise and you committed at least two predicates during a specific 10-year period. For an open-ended pattern, the evidence must show that the enterprise and you committed only one predicate, but that you both intended to commit additional future predicates.

Usually, federal prosecutors charge you with allegedly having committed more than one RICO violation. They use this tactic to better their chances of convicting you of at least one charge. You face serious penalties if convicted, including a federal prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine for each conviction.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.