The Law Offices of Bruce Richardson is well versed in handling civil RICO claims, often in the context of real estate litigation and mortgage fraud. Our extensive knowledge allows us to handle RICO cases in both state and federal courts. Because these cases often involve multiple parties and complicated rules of evidence, we often collaborate with experienced federal litigators to provide our clients with the superior level of legal representation they expect and deserve.
RICO prohibits racketeering activity as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. It is unlawful for an employee or an associate of an enterprise to conduct or participate in a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt. While this seems straightforward, court rulings have vastly expanded the scope of the law beyond organized crime. As such, a RICO enterprise can involve any partnership, corporation, individual, association, legal entity, union, or group of individuals associated in fact.
Although the defendant need not be criminally convicted before a civil Rico claim can be brought, the plaintiff must be able to show that:
• An enterprise existed
• The defendant was employed by or associated with the enterprise
• The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity
• The defendant participated in the conduct of at least 2 “predicate acts” of racketeering activity
• The plaintiff’s business or property was harmed
• The harm was directly caused by the defendant’s conduct
While an enterprise may be an individual, business or any other legal entity, it is often a group of individuals who form an “association” to work together for an extended period in pursuit of a common illegal interest. In addition to participating in the enterprise, the defendant must have had an indispensable role in carrying out its operations. Being a lower level employee or a business associate such as a vendor or professional service provider (e.g., lawyer, accountant) is insufficient, even if such individuals had knowledge of the racketeering activity.
A pattern of racketeering activity is defined as two predicate acts under Section 1962 of the RICO statute (e.g., mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion) that occurred with 10 years of each other. Moreover, a RICO violation can be predicated upon any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance that is chargeable under state law.
In other words, the plaintiff must first be able to prove the underlying criminal acts were committed and then show how the crimes were part of racketeering activity conducted by an enterprise. It is worth noting that civil RICO actions cannot be based upon claims such as breach of contract, negligence, defective products, or failed business transactions.
Ultimately, a plaintiff who prevails may be entitled to significant compensation, which includes treble damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs. If the defendant’s behavior is particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded. Such damages are designed to punish the defendant’s conduct as well as to deter others from engaging in racketeering activity.
If you believe you have a valid claim or have been named as a defendant in a civil RICO lawsuit, you should contact the Law Offices of Bruce Richardson. We have the skills and resources to pursue and defend civil Rico claims. Our legal team will take the time to understand your circumstances, fully explain the process, and help you navigate the inherent challenges in a civil RICO claim.
If you believe that you have been harmed by racketeering activity, we will conduct an extensive analysis to determine whether specific RICO requirements have been met. On the other hand, being named as a defendant in a civil RICO case is also a serious matter that requires the aggressive legal representation and experience we can provide. When necessary, we collaborate with a respected network of investigators, forensic accountants, financial professionals and other experts to collect and examine evidence.
We have a proven track record of pursuing successful civil RICO claims, as evidenced by our involvement in the dismantling of multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud schemes and real estate scams. Our team has also represented clients on the other end of the spectrum by designing appropriate criminal defense strategies. The Law Offices of Bruce Richardson is the informed choice for civil RICO claims. Call our us today or complete the online contact form for a free case evaluation.