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27 Nov 23

Philadelphia Federal RICO Charges: Racketeering and Criminal Enterprises

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:57 pm

Philadelphia Federal RICO Charges: Racketeering and Criminal Enterprises

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges are no joke. These federal charges are used to go after criminal enterprises like the mob, gangs, and white collar schemes. If your facing RICO charges in Philadelphia, your looking at some serious time if convicted.

Let’s break down what these charges are, how the feds build a RICO case, the penalties yyou face, and some possible defenses. I’ll try to keep it simple and empathetic, as I know these charges turn peoples lives upside down.

What are Philly Federal RICO Charges?

Congress passed the RICO Act in 1970 to combat organized crime syndicates like the Mafia. The law gives extra penalties for crimes committed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. To violate RICO, a person must engage in a “pattern of racketeering activity” connected to an “enterprise.”

The enterprise can be any group or organization, legal or illegal. This includes gangs, corporations, nonprofits, unions, or informal associations. The racketeering activities are state and federal crimes listed in the RICO law, like:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Money laundering
  • Counterfeiting
  • Embezzlement
  • Drug trafficking
  • Gambling
  • Extortion
  • Prostitution rings
  • Cybercrimes
  • Securities fraud

So if your part of a crew committing these crimes on an ongoing basis, RICO turns each crime into a 20 year federal felony.

How Feds Build a RICO Case

Federal RICO cases take years to build. They often begin with charges against low level guys. Prosecutors use plea deals to get them to flip on higher ups. Rats where wires to record conversations. The feds pore over financial records to prove the enterprise and pattern of crimes.

By the time their ready to indict, they’ve built an air tight RICO case to take down the whole operation.

Penalties for Federal RICO Convictions

The penalties for a RICO conviction are severe:

Up to 20 Years Per Racketeering Charge

The maximum sentence for each RICO racketeering charge is 20 years in federal prison. Most RICO indictments charge multiple predicate acts as separate counts. So if your convicted of 3 racketeering acts, your facing up to 60 years just on those charges alone.

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RICO Forfeiture

The government will also seek forfeiture of all assets connected to the criminal enterprise under RICO. This includes money, property, vehicles, businesses, and anything else tied to the racketeering activity. So they can wipe you out financially on top of the jail time.

No Parole in Federal System

Unlike state courts, there is no parole in the federal system. So you must serve at least 85% of any sentence behind bars. With good behavior credits factored in, expect to serve around 70% of the term.

Defenses to Federal RICO Charges

Beating a RICO case is an uphill battle once indicted. But all hope isn’t lost. Here are some possible defenses:

Attack the Enterprise

The government must prove an enterprise existed, either legal or illegal. This association of persons needs an organizational structure beyond just committing random crimes. Attacking this element may beat the RICO charge.

No Pattern of Racketeering Activity

Prosecutors must show at least two predicate racketeering offenses that amount to a pattern of criminal activity. Sporadic crimes or isolated incidents don’t cut it. The defense can argue no enterprise existed.

Conspiracy Defenses

Many RICO charges include a conspiracy allegation. This requires intent to participate in the criminal scheme. The defense can negate this by showing the defendant didn’t know about the conspiracy or was just present when it was discussed.

Statute of Limitations

Federal RICO indictments must be brought within 5 years of the last alleged racketeering act. If the final act falls outside this window, the charge may be barred by the statute of limitations.

Bottom Line

I know RICO cases seem scary and overwhelming. But an experienced federal defense lawyer can carefully examine the governments evidence for weaknesses. With sharp lawyering and tenacity, they may dismantle the prosecution’s case piece by piece. Don’t lose hope!

I tried to break this down in simple terms, but let me know if you have any other questions! Reach out anytime to discuss your case.