Rico: The Genesis of an Idea
Trends in Organized Crime, Vol. 9, No. 8, 2006
28 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2008
In 1970, the Congress enacted the Organized Crime Control Act. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO is Title IX of the 1970 Act. The Act had its origins in legislation going back to 1934 and coming forward to 1961. The 1970 Act borrowed from recommendations made by those associated with earlier congressional investigations of organized crime as well as ideas from existing legislation, principally enterprise and pattern, but also the use of incorporated federal and state statutes to define racketeering activity. The ideas are not new, but their combination and configuration affects how prosecutors and law enforcement agents investigate, try, and sanction violations of the Act. RICO's drafting also reflects the teachings of organizational theory and economic analysis. The investigation and prosecution of a single crime committed by a single individual on a single day and in a single place using one set of simple procedures and similar evidentiary rules may be adequate. Nevertheless, the investigation, prosecution, and sanction of patterns of diverse offenses committed by, through, and against licit and illicit enterprises require procedures that are more sophisticated, analogous evidentiary rules, and comparable criminal sanctions. In addition, systemic antisocial conduct is more than a challenge to the administration of the criminal justice system. It requires at the instance of the government the use of the full panoply of civil sanctions, including injunctions of all types, and supplementary private enforcement by injunctive relief and treble damages, as in the antitrust area. In theory and practice, RICO has had a profound effect on the prosecution of organized crime including the substantial destruction of the most significant organized crime group in 1970, popularly known as the Mafia white-collar crime, and similar criminal behavior, such as terrorism and street gang.
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