RICO and Racketeering Laws in Nevada
If you haven’t seen the movie Casino, then I’m sure you are either really young or have been living under a rock. I say it is possibly one of the best Mob movies of all time.
In the movie, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci play the main mob bosses that are sent to Vegas to Run The Stardust (another name in the movie), all the while committing crimes over the course of many years. I won’t give away the ending if you haven’t seen it but at the end some of the bosses are charged with Racketeering or RICO crimes and sent to prison for some lengthy sentences others were well..
Casino was loosely based on a true story about the Mob in Las Vegas during a very particular time in history. Most of us associate RICO and Racketeering with the mob and the crimes they have committed but in reality, it is used in many instances.
The mob is just the most notorious and most publicized. The Federal Government uses the Mob prosecutions as publicized to deter other organizations from committing similar crimes, and the stories are captivating but does it work ? Who knows?
What is RICO?
RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”
RICO was created to punish members of a group of racketeers, meaning they engage in a “pattern of serious illegal conduct.” RICO prohibits:
- Investing and profiting from money that is made from racketeering activities
- Buying into or obtaining interest in an enterprise that is racketeering
- Leading or participating in an enterprise carrying out racketeering
These may be confusing but basically don’t get involved with a business or person that is involved in crimal activity.
The Federal government, actually The Attorney General’s office are the ones who prosecuted RICO. They specifically target criminal organizations such as the mob or gangs.
You may not know this but the Attorney General also targets businesses and corporations that, in the course of doing legitimate business, become corrupt organizations. Also, anyone involved in the criminal enterprise in responsible. It doesn’t matter how minor the involvement.
So RICO wasn’t created just for the Mob, that is a common misconception.
When Do the Feds Bring RICO Charges
The government will charge a group or organization with RICO if they participate in two serious crimes over a ten year period. The crimes can be either state or federal crimes even though RICO is prosecuted by the attorney general.
The offenses that can be charged under the RICO act can include the following:
- Embezzlement of funds- This includes any monies from unions, HOA’s or other institutions
- Bringing illegal aliens into the country-this includes slavery, indentured servitude
- Drug trafficking
- Financial crimes- Bankruptcy fraud, securities fraud, and bribery, counterfeiting
- Murder for hire, murder, kidnapping
- Gambling crimes
- Robbery, burglary
Many crimes fall under the RICO act only if the acts were interrelated.
The courts use a system of continuity-plus-relationship to determine if the crimes have similar goals, results, and victims.
RICO can’t be charged if the crimes are not related or with the same group. If you commit a crime alone that has nothing to do with a group then RICO can’t be charged.
Another tool used by the government is called CCE ( Continuing Criminal Enterprise or “ The Kingpin Statue”). This is a federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers who are responsible for long-term drug conspiracies.
This is used sometimes instead of RICO.
The difference is that CCE is very specific, focusing on large scale drug trafficking rings consisting of 5 or more people, and convicting leaders or supervisors of the group.
The punishments for these crimes are harsh. RICO on the other hand covers a broader scope of crimes as stated above.
What Are the Penalties for Racketeering or RICO
If you are convicted of a RICO violation, you can receive up to a 20-year prison sentence in Federal prison and a fine.
If the criminal activity that is associated with the RICO charge, like murder, then you can be sentenced to life in prison since a federal murder conviction also carries a life sentence.
For example, John Gotti or The Teflon Don as he was known for his ability to elude conviction was finally convicted of murder and racketeering and other counts and was sentenced to life in federal prison.
Another penalty for being convicted of RICO and racketeering, defendants are also subject to asset forfeiture of any money or other gains obtained from the alleged racketeering activity.
Once arrested, your assets will be frozen by the federal government and that may delay your ability to hire appropriate counsel and if you are charged with RICO or racketeering you need a lawyer. An experienced law firm may be able to get your assets frozen if just to pay for your legal fees.
RICO and racketeering charges make suspects vulnerable to lawsuits for civil remedies for the victims. In some cases, judges may triple the victim’s losses as the award for being the victim of a racketeering charge.
What Are the Defenses for RICO
There are some common defenses if you are charged in a RICO case:
- The unlawful activities were not interrelated– The government must prove that the criminal acts were a “cohesive pattern of criminal activity” so if you commit one crime alone and you are a member of a group that commits crimes, the single crime can’t be charged under RICO but your group criminal activity might be able to.
- The defendant did not act willfully-One of the key elements of proving RICO is that you deliberately broke the law. If your attorney can prove that you weren’t intending to commit a crime then you can’t be convicted of RICO.
- The police committed misconduct-This includes illegal search and seizure. If they have searched your business or home without obtaining a warrant or probable cause then your lawyer can file a motion to have the incriminating evidence disregarded by the court. The evidence obtained illegally would not be allowed to be seen by the jury and income case this means the difference between being found guilty or not.
A good defense team will investigate the allegations against you and use the appropriate defense to fight the charges.
The Difference Between Federal Charges and Nevada State Charges
In some states, like Nevada, they have their own RICO or racketeering laws.
In Nevada, the law requires that two or more defendants commit interrelated crimes over a 5 years period, the federal timeline is 10 years.
The penalty for being convicted of racketeering in Nevada is
- 5 to 20 years in state prison
- Up to a $25,000 fine
- 3 times payment to the victims for the loss they suffered
- Forfeit of any proceeds obtained from the criminal racketeering
The Nevada courts have jurisdiction over the Nevada charge but the federal courts have jurisdiction over the federal RICO act.
As you can see, this can all be very confusing. Call The Defenders today to discuss your case with an experienced RICO attorney.
Why Hire The Defenders
The Defenders law group has been a fixture in Las Vegas for over 40 years.
We employ a group of many attorneys that are experts in many different fields including RICO and racketeering. We offer a full service legal defense team to investigate your case and come up with a defense plan that best suits the case.
We will offer a variety of outcomes based on our investigation and evidence.
You will be well informed by our staff of the possible outcomes and we will advise you as to what to do. We never make difficult decisions for our clients but we will fight for you and offer you the best advice. We are a top notch defense law group and have defended thousands of clients over the years. Contact The Defenders for a free consultation and case review.
If you have been charged with or arrested for a RICO violation and Racketeering charge then you need to hire an experienced legal team like The Defenders.