02 Jul 20

NY Penal Law § 460.20: Enterprise Corruption

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Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 03:51 pm

Enterprise corruption is an extremely serious criminal offense. It is most commonly associated with organized crime and white collar crime. Since the time the New York legislature concluded that organized crime is a widespread and dangerous phenomenon, it enacted legislation to penalize those involved in activities that are classified as enterprise corruption.  You could be prosecuted  under New York Penal Law § 460.20 for enterprise corruption if you knowingly are an employee of a criminal enterprise and you:

  1. Intentionally take part in the criminal activity of said enterprise,
  2. Intentionally take on any interest or control of an enterprise by carrying out criminal activity, or
  3. Take part in a pattern of criminal activity and knowingly invest proceeds from such conduct into an enterprise.

For the purposes of this statue, the term “criminal activity” is defined as a minimum of 3 criminal acts, 2 of which must be felonies. Among these, one of the felonies must have been committed within 5 years of when the criminal action began, and each of the requisite criminal acts must have occurred within 2 years of the previous criminal act.

According to the criminal code, a “criminal act” is any of a number of felonies listed in the statute including: forgery, insurance fraud, assault, strangulation, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and hindering prosecution.

A Case Law Example

In the case of the People v. Joseph Stevens & Co. (N.Y. Sup. Ct., 2011), the Joseph Stevens & Co. securities firms, along with several of its employees were charged with enterprise corruption. The prosecutor brought this charge on the basis of evidence that the defendant had begun a scheme that included such acts as market manipulation, failure to properly disclose aspects of stock trades to customers, falsification of documents for new accounts, and wrongful obtaining of unauthorized commissions on the trading of shares. The underlying criminal offenses connected to these activities include securities fraud, criminal possession of stolen property in the second, third and fourth degrees, and grand larceny in the second and third degrees.

Offenses that are Related

Aggravated enterprise corruption: New York Penal Law § 460.22

Possible Defenses

The successful prosecution of a charge of enterprise corruption is a rather complicated feat. The prosecutor will carry the burden to prove that you were engaged in multiple crimes within a specific time frame. If the prosecutor should fail to demonstrate that you were engaged in criminal activity as defined by the statute, this would be a strong defense against a charge of enterprise corruption. 

If it is shown, for example, that you may have committed 2 misdemeanors and 1 felony within the requisite time frame, while you could get convicted of each of those crimes separately, you could not be convicted of enterprise corruption in this scenario. This is because a charge of enterprise corruption requires the commission of 2 felonies and 1 misdemeanor.


The Sentence

Enterprise corruption is categorized as a Class B felony. If you are convicted of enterprise corruption, the judge could sentence you to a mandatory prison sentence of as much as 25 years.