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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75649 Find in a Library
Title: RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) - The New Darling of the Prosecutor's Nursery
Journal: Fordham Law Review  Volume:49  Issue:2  Dated:(November 1980)  Pages:167-306
Author(s): B Tarlow
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 142
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines Title IX of the 1970 Organized Crime Act, popularly known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations), and argues that defects in its broad statutory construction and restrictive constitutional interpretations make legislative reform essential.
Abstract: The RICO provisions were originally targeted against organized crime's infiltration of legitimate business by punishing participation in an enterprise through racketeering activity. Since 1975, Federal prosecutors have urged broader interpretations of the statute to punish involvement in other criminal activities and have charged a wide variety of defendants with RICO violations, including members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club, public employees, and union leaders. Following a general discussion of Title IX, the article analyzes its central provision, section 1962, which defines the RICO offense. The absence of a mens rea element is explored, and Government interpretations of the statute's position on criminal liability are refuted on the basis of congressional intent and rules of statutory construction. Other aspects of section 1962 are reviewed, including the act's application to illegal enterprises, definitions of a pattern of racketeering and racketeering activity, and the impact of an enterprise's activities on interstate commerce. The case of United States v. Eliot is described to illustrate the use of RICO to prosecute conspiracy. A summary of objections to RICO indictments considers the statute of limitations, double jeopardy problems, collateral estoppel, duplicity and multiplicity, and joiner and severance. Difficulties in interpreting RICO's criminal penalty provision which provides for forfeiture of a defendant's interest in an enterprise in addition to a fine and/or imprisonment are also examined. Specific areas covered include the forfeiture procedure, what constitutes forfeitable interests, eighth amendment challenges, and restraining orders. The paper concludes that the overbroad application of Title IX with its accompanying severe penalties should be remedied by legislative action to clarify the statute and by increased sensitivity of the courts to protect defendants from unfair and unconstitutional applications of RICO. Approximately 800 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Conspiracy; Labor racketeering; Law reform; Organized crime; Organized Crime Control Act of 1970; Organized crime prevention; Prosecution
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