Racketeering Lawyers



The Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a highly technical, complex statute that requires extensive knowledge and substantial experience on behalf of an attorney.  As a client of Eastland Law, you will be represented by lawyers who have participated in RICO cases on all sides: as civil Plaintiffs and both civil and criminal Defendants.

What is RICO?

The RICO statute was initially written to combat mafia activities at the federal level.  Since that time, it has morphed into a law that can be applied in numerous situations, and has been incorporated into many states’ criminal codes.  In the criminal context, RICO is a serious offense that carries substantial jail time.  As a civil cause of action, it is often the biggest concern of a lawsuit due to its treble damage provision.  To justify the enormous penalties RICO imposes, there are multiple intricacies that must be established before this type of claim can be successful.  Specifically, RICO requires the Government or Plaintiff to prove such elements as enterprise, predicate acts, pattern of racketeering activity and continuity, along with the usual showing of causation and damages.


To have a RICO claim, you must be able to show that there is an enterprise involved.  Such an enterprise can be legitimate or illegitimate and can either be a corporate entity or a loosely associated group.  Although determining the RICO enterprise is the first step, this is often where inexperienced attorneys fall short, failing to comply with such additional technicalities as defendant / enterprise distinction and essential nexus to the predicate acts.  A proficient RICO Plaintiffs’ attorney must have enough knowledge of these intricacies to enable him or her to think outside the box for pleading purposes, while at the same time ensuring that the enterprise will not be the target of a Motion to Dismiss. On the Defense side, a RICO attorney should easily be able to deconstruct an enterprise that fails to comply with these technicalities.

Predicate Acts

Another element all RICO claims require is predicate acts of racketeering activity.  Such acts are independently illegal crimes that fit within the list enumerated by the Legislature.  Included in this group are offenses of bribery, kickback, extortion, mail and wire fraud, honest services mail and wire fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling and bank fraud.  A RICO attorney on the Plaintiff side must be capable of defining predicate acts of racketeering activity that qualify under the Act’s list while making sure that such actions fall within the statute of limitations period.  In representing a Defendant, one of the key inquiries is whether certain predicates were pled with sufficient particularity under Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Pattern of Racketeering Activity

For a successful RICO claim, the predicate acts of racketeering activity must form a “pattern of racketeering activity.”  Generally, this means more than two acts must have occurred.  While this may seem an easy task, many inexperienced RICO attorneys are not familiar with the essential nexus requirement that necessitates certain relationships between the predicates and the enterprise.  For example, depending on whether the claim arises under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(a), (b) or (c), the acts will serve different purposes.  In a claim under § 1962(c), the predicate acts must have been committed by or through the alleged enterprise, while in a § 1962(a) claim, the focus is on whether proceeds derived from the predicate acts were used to invest in the enterprise.


Another element of any RICO claim is continuity, which simply means that the activity must either be ongoing or have been conducted over a substantial period of time.  This can be established in several ways.  First, if the racketeering predicates constitute an entity’s regular way of conducting business, “open-ended continuity” can be found.  Alternatively, even if the conduct has ceased, “closed-ended continuity” can be established where the predicates were committed over a substantial period of time.  Although the amount of time necessary varies by circuit, it is generally safe to assume that anything over a year will probably be sufficient.

Why Eastland Law is Right for You

RICO law is not an area that any and every lawyer can handle proficiently.  If you find yourself a target of a criminal or civil RICO action, think you might have a RICO claim yourself, or you are an attorney who would like assistance with analyzing potential RICO claims involving grand jury investigations or trials, you should contact someone who knows the statute inside and out. civil rico defense.  At Eastland Law, we know RICO. We handle these types of cases for some of the top law firms in the country, and would love the opportunity to help you.

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