RICO Act Thesis

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RICO ACT in Conception and Application

Prosecuting organized crime has always carried with it unique and unwieldy challenges for law enforcement agents and groups. By their very nature, organized crime syndicates will tend to be complex, inherently subterranean in their affairs and given over to a widespread obscurity of illegal activities. Thus, for law enforcement groups, even in the face of what in some instances might be seen as egregious offenses against the law or other groups or individuals, it has still been historically difficult to bring charges that not only stick to offenders, but also to bring charges that are significant enough to serve justice and encompass the scope of that in which such illegal entities are often engaged. The secretive leadership structure, the widely distributed delegation of responsibilities and the relationships often forged between members of organized crime groups and individuals who are a party to the legitimate worlds of business, judiciary or politics have made it also supremely difficult to make meaningful charges stick to those at the top of organized criminal structures, whether corporate, Mafioso or some other form of gang or contraband trafficking group. These variant challenges account for the passage and widely diffuse application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which has in its four decades of application become the bane of traditionally ethnically-based organized criminal enterprises and, over time, has come to be gradually applied to a far wider set of cases than perhaps originally imagined.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Thesis on RICO Act Assignment

Indeed, today, RICO has become a powerfully versatile tool for law enforcement, conforming to needs that have expanded to include white collar crime, political corruption, terrorist conspiracy and gang activity. The organized and structural nature of such targeted groups renders them elusive to traditional or individual charges, and have thus made the catch-all nature of the RICO provisions a favored way to approach otherwise difficult legal intervention in the face of obvious criminality. This point inclines us to first consider that which is implied by the conception of organized crime, so that we might develop a clearer understanding as to why the RICO Act has come today to hold such far-reaching and strategic importance. Likewise, understanding the nature of the type of organization or activity targeted by RICO will help to illuminate some of its core shortcomings, some of its practical failures and some degree of the conflict which relates to RICO's constitutionality or diversion therefrom.

In 1970, the United States government attempted to craft a piece of legislation with a sweeping focus on the proliferation of organized crime, which at the time would be embodied by the leading role of Sicilian and Italian family enterprises known as La Cosa Nostra of the Mafia. Attempting to heighten both agency enforcement capacity and the stakes for those running afoul of its conditions, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was designed to ease restrictions on surveillance methods and the establishing of a concrete relationship between criminal acts and involvement with organized crime. Its intent was to establish the inherent assertion in its application that the concurrence of certain criminal activities was not incidental but part of a broader criminal conspiracy against state and country. The legislation was thus designed to both triple the financial penalty for acts of such an association and to increase the coincidence between various criminal charges and the 'organized crime' classification needed to levy such fines. (Grell, 1) This did greatly expand the government's ability to combat organized crime, as it conforms to the traditional definition, endowing federal prosecutors the right to utilize the included offenses to earn the defendant the umbrella charge of racketeering. As our research denotes of its initial application, "throughout the 1970's, RICO's intended purpose and its actual use ran parallel to each other. Seldom was RICO used outside of the context of the Mafia, and it is not an overstatement to say that civil claims under RICO were simply not brought." (Grell, 1)

But as we consider the notion of organized crime here, we can develop a clearer view of the way that RICO has evolved to present day, such that it is rarely if ever used in regards to the Mafia now. (Grell, 1) Indeed, organized crime is something which should increasingly be demystified and examined for that which it truly is. It is appealing to view organized crime as a paradoxically nuanced subject, given over to both tactics of an extremely objectionable nature and to meaningful principles that are deeply ingrained by tradition. This view of organized crime, however, is not a realistic understanding of its current makeup. While organized crime does still denote a complex enterprise consisting of many established forms of self-regulation, its motives are far simpler and governed almost exclusively by money. Essentially, organized crime operates in much the same way as does corporate consolidation, only doing so outside the boundaries of the established bylaws of state and country.

The 'mob,' as it were, is neither mythological nor fully understood by the general public, but it bears a number of key characteristics which distinguish it both from legitimate enterprising and from more informal criminal entities.

This is to note that organized crime may take on any number of forms which deviate from the stereotypical impression of the Sicilian Mafioso figures that pervade popular culture. Instead, organized crime pertains to the activity orientation of any such enterprise which operates outside of the law according to economic ventures, which are often characterized transgressing operations such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, gambling and prostitution. (FBI, 1)

With each of these territories is inbuilt a demand for monopolistic tactics that mirror those in the legitimate business realm. Leadership in organized crime is a double-edged sword, with high-ranking 'family' members being simultaneously in a position to accumulate great power, wealth and influence while residing in the crosshairs of those aspiring to seize such authority by violent means or those looking to disrupt illegal activity through the application of judicial and enforcement jurisdiction.

Its structural approach is often the key distinction in such activity, with its design intended to contend with both of these realities. This precipitates the condition which distinguishes organized crime to its own business and criminology category. Its capacity for self-perpetuation has made it a superior model for the instigation of crime-for-profit. While maintaining an exclusivity with regard to its admission of membership, defined by a variety of factors that are not strictly ethnic in nature but more typically relating to power, influence and discreteness, organized crime units are still uniquely resilient. "The FBI has found that even if key individuals in an organization are removed, the depth and financial strength of the organization often allows the enterprise to continue." (FBI, 1) Thus, its methods of violence and assassination are actually accounted for in its structural tendencies as are such likelihoods as prosecutions and imprisonment for members at myriad levels of a hierarchy.

According to Section 1961 of the RICO Act, the definition for the charge is an incredibly broad category, touching upon almost all areas of criminal activity as they might occur in an organized sense and with relation to one another. To the point, the legislation refers primarily to the idea of racketeering, evaluating this as a criminal conspiracy characterized by the inclusion of only two coinciding charges out of an array that includes almost forty items for which one could be considered in breach of federal law. As Section 1961 denotes, "racketeering activity' means (a) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year" (CULS, 1)

The law then goes on to note further such specific offenses as bribery, interstate theft, mail fraud, the falsification of citizenship, illegal gaming facilitation, counterfeiting, insider trading, unlawful monetary activities and the corruption or exploitation of minors, just to name a selection of those most often considered relevant.

As implied above, one of the unique distinctions that would set RICO apart from its crime-fighting counterpart policies is its ability to apply federal charges to an alleged offender even where many of the crimes are articulated as offended against state-based laws. Moreover, we find that the sentencing which can be applied to charges while standing alone or assembled without the umbrella RICO charges is inherently more conducive to long sentencing. The idea here is that sentencing should occur in a manner proportional to the degree of criminality understood to relate to those who are known to be involved in organized crime. This is the raison d'etre for the RICO Act, which proceeds from the understanding that its primary targets are individuals who are involved in a degree of criminality more established and extensive than the law is likely to be able to either monitor, prove or prosecute. Proving the relationship between two or more… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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RICO Act.  (2009, February 28).  Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/rico-act/1813863

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