New York Racketeering / RICO Laws

Federal and state racketeering laws generally make it a crime for a criminal organization or enterprise to receive income through such means as a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debts. The federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act prohibits an array of activities relating to any such enterprise engaged in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Federal RICO laws typically target larger operations spanning multiple states, while state laws tend to target more regional criminal enterprises.

New York Racketeering / RICO Laws: The Basics

As with the federal law, New York law also criminalizes the offense referred to as "enterprise corruption." The enterprise corruption statute is New York's version of the federal RICO Act and was added to the Penal Law by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1986 to combat the "diversified illegal conduct engaged in by organized crime," including the infiltration and corruption of legitimate enterprises.

Additional details of the law are listed in the following table.

Statute

New York Penal Code Article 460, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Enterprise Corruption

A person is guilty of enterprise corruption when, having knowledge of the existence of a "criminal enterprise" and the nature of its activities, and being employed by or associated with such enterprise, he or she:

  1. Intentionally conducts or participates in the affairs of an enterprise by participating in a pattern of criminal activity;
  2. Intentionally acquires or maintains an interest in or control of an enterprise by participating in a pattern of criminal activity; or
  3. Participates in a pattern of criminal activity and knowingly invests any proceeds derived from that conduct, or any proceeds derived from the investment or use of those proceeds, in an enterprise.

The enterprise that is corrupted need not be the criminal enterprise by which the person is employed or with which he or she is associated, and may be a legitimate enterprise.

Statutory Definition of Criminal Enterprise

A "criminal enterprise" is "a group of persons sharing a common purpose of engaging in criminal conduct, associated in an ascertainable structure distinct from a pattern of criminal activity, and with a continuity of existence, structure and criminal purpose beyond the scope of individual criminal incidents."

Elements of an Enterprise Corruption Charge
  1. The defendant participated in a pattern of criminal activity
  2. By engaging in one of the three proscribed forms of conduct (i.e., conducting or participating in the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern; acquiring or maintaining an interest in or control of an enterprise through a pattern; or investing the proceeds of a pattern in an enterprise); and
  3. The defendant had knowledge of the existence of a criminal enterprise and the nature of its activities and was employed by or associated with that enterprise.
Defenses
  • Lack of knowledge of criminal enterprise
  • Lack of pattern of criminal activity
  • Duress or compulsion
  • Entrapment
  • Withdrawal
Penalties and Sentences

Class B felony: Up to 25 yrs. in prison and of fine of either $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant's gain from the crime (whichever is greater)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What Constitutes a Pattern of Criminal Activity?

A person engages in a "pattern of criminal activity" when, "with intent to participate in or advance the affairs of the criminal enterprise," he or she engages in conduct constituting -- or is criminally liable for -- at least three of the "criminal acts" included in the pattern, provided that (1) two of the acts are felonies other than conspiracy; (2) two of the acts, one of which is a felony, occurred within five years of the commencement of the criminal act; and (3) each of the acts occurred within three years of a prior act.

Finally, a "criminal act" is conduct constituting any crime -- or conspiracy or attempt to commit any felony -- specified in the statute.

New York Racketeering / RICO Laws: Related Resources

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