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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RICO Civil Actions for Treble Damages

I've been researching the federal RICO statute, Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq. It was enacted years ago to go after the mafia, who would invest its money in "legitimate" enterprises - restaurants, car dealerships, construction companies, and so on. Congress wanted a way to get at the "legitimate" enterprises to deny the hoodlums of their ill gotten gains.

To convict someone under RICO, the Government only has to show the commission of two "predicate acts" within the last 10 years. Predicate acts include, of course, murder and extortion, obstruction of justice, but also mail and wire fraud. Surprisingly, perjury and tax evasion or fraud are not on the list; however, if the tax returns are mailed are transmitted over the internet or faxed, that is a predicate act - wire or mail fraud.

The Act provides for civil actions for victims, and carries an automatic trebling of damages.

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