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The Racketeer Influenced and corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO is a federal law in the United States that offers for the extended criminal penalties and civil cause of action for those crimes committed as part of a continuous criminal organization. This Act was enacted in under the section 901(a) of the organized criminal control act of 1970. The main reason for the enactment of this Act was to deal with Mafia and other who are involved in organized crimes. However, its application has been extended to other forms of crimes.
Racketeering is defined as being part of an illegal business that is run as part of an organized crime. There are various types of racket crimes but the most common type is the protection racket where an organized group of people demand money from businesses in exchange with protection against crimes that are brought about by the racketeers themselves. The other type is the numbers racket which is a form of illegal gamble (Grell, Gleekel, & Friedberg, 2003).
Legal Liability involved in racketeering
Under this act, there are a total of 35 acts, 27 of them are federal crimes while 27 are states crimes. The act therefore states that a person who has committed at least tow of the 35 crimes for a period of ten years shall be charged with the crime of racketeering.
Section 1962(c) of the Act prohibits any defendant person from running or being in charge of an enterprise through racketeering activities. As long a civil plaintiff gets injured through the enterprise's racketeering activities, or through the management of t enterprise in a racketeering manner, the plaintiff is warranted treble damages, attorneys' fees and cost stated under the section 1964(c) of the act. This is the commonly known civil liability provision.
To claim a legal responsibility against a racketeering organization under any subsection of section 1962 of the Racketeer Influenced and corrupt Organizations Act, the plaintiff must assert the existence of an enterprise which in this case exists which may either be an illegal enterprise or a legitimate one. Secondly, the enterprise that is involved must be distinct from the defendant individual. This statement arises from the past common law that states that a person can conspire with himself. According to this statement, employees of a certain corporation may join together in committing a suspicious act during their employment and they may do it on behalf of the corporation. Under legal circumstances, these employees together with the corporation are not a distinct entity from the enterprise.
The act committed by the organization can be defined as a crime under the Section 1962 of the Act which states that it is unlawful for any person who has received money or any other form of income, directly or indirectly, from an activity conducted in a racketeering manner or through unlawful debt collection un which the person has participated with the principal reason of collecting income, to use that income in an enterprise or an activity that he or she participates in. Part (b) of this section also states that it is unlawful for a person who is employed in an enterprise that participates in racketeering activities to conduct activities on behalf of such an enterprise in the racketeering manner or in unlawful collection of debts.
Criminal liability for racketeering
There is a harsh punishment for those found violating the criminal provision of the Racketeer Influenced and corrupt Organizations Act. This provision extends to enterprises through the incorporation of the definition of organized crime which may mean between the persons and the corporation. If a person is convicted with the crime of racketeering, he or she is fined and sentenced for jail term more than twenty years for each of the violations he or she is found guilty of. Further, the person must surrender any interest, a claim against, or any property or the contractual right over the enterprise involved and any other property that is associated with the racketeering activities, or that is acquired through the racketeering activities. In the case of our organization, the company will lose all the property that it has acquired through the fraudulent debt collection and as the CEO, I might be sentenced for more than twenty years, excluding the civil liability.
Civil liability for racketeering
The Racketeer Influenced and corrupt Organizations Act has civil liabilities which states that the party that has been injured or affected by the racketeering activities to recover from the defendant in a civil court. Where the plaintiff succeeds in a civil RICO, he is entitled to collect treble damages, or thrice the amount that he or she has lost to the defendant through his racketeering activities, plus the attorney's fee and other costs that are associated with the crime. Therefore the organization will have to pay the amount fronded in debt collection to those organizations that it as affected plus other costs that the court may decide upon (Macintosh, 1998).
The Racketeer Influenced and corrupt Organizations Act has been used as powerful tool by the US federal government deal with the organized crimes. The act has been expanded from its original statements to ensure that it covers petty non violent crimes such as fraud. This act has been harsh on organize crimes since use of business enterprises in committing crimes has been widely used that the individual crimes. For the case of our organization that commits fraud through debt collection, the civil and criminal liability has been found to be heavy.