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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78846 Find in a Library
Title: Arson and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) (From Techniques in the Investigation and Prosecution of Organized Crime Materials on RICO, P 211-240, 1980, G. Robert Blakey, ed. - See NCJ-78839)
Author(s): M Gabel
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 30
Document: PDF
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The nature and extent of arson-for-profit, current problems in detection and prosecution, and suggestions for an improved deterrence strategy, notably through the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), are discussed.
Abstract: The principal reason for the staggering increase in arson is the perpetrators' large return from a small investment within a short time, coupled with the minimal chances of detection and successful prosecution. An old building is purchased at a relatively cheap price, overinsured through a series of sham transactions among several 'straw' parties over a short time (whether the policy value is greatly inflated after each transaction) and then burned to receive the profit from the insurance company. The scheme is successful because insurance companies often do not inspect either the buildings they insure, the records of property value assessments, or property tax payments. Also, insurance companies generally insure buildings at replacement cost rather than fair market value. These enticing insurance practices, along with other favorable circumstances, have induced organized crime to pursue arson-for-profit. A primary deterrent for such schemes could be the application of RICO's civil triple damages for victims of crimes. Civil proceedings also offer a greater likelihood of gaining a favorable court judgment because of a lesser burden of proof than in criminal trials and other broader discovery opportunities. Other deterrent steps should include the enactment of appropriate State 'immunity' legislation that would permit the free exchange of insurance policyholder information with criminal justice agencies and the reform of insurance practices that would undermine the existing possibilities for profit. A total of 77 footnotes are listed.
Index Term(s): Arson; Crime specific countermeasures; Insurance fraud; Organized crime; Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act
Note: Available in microfiche from NCJRS as NCJ-78839.
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