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Understanding The Civil RICO Act In Michigan

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law that penalizes ongoing acts committed by criminal organizations. The RICO focuses specifically on racketeering crimes. Racketeering is usually defined as the repeated act of extorting money. If you are facing charges for violating the RICO Act, contact a seasoned defense lawyer today. An experienced lawyer will have an understanding the Civil RICO act in Michigan and how to build a viable defense for you.

Civil Components of the Civil RICO Act

The components in the RICO statute include the racketeering influence throughout the organization. Most of the time, this is a business such as a bank or insurance company. The business is referred to as an enterprise in the RICO statute. The next step is identifying the individuals that conduct the business of that enterprise through what the statute refers to as a pattern of racketeering activity. In order to have a RICO violation, one must show that the enterprise engaged in at least two acts of racketeering activity.

The list of acts of racketeering activities is extensive. In the civil context, the common acts are money laundering and wire fraud violations. There are a host of other potential violations, such as object violations, which is the federal extortion statute that could also be the basis for a civil RICO prosecution. Many times, object violations involve someone misusing a government position.

Extortion

An example of misuse of a government position is a health inspector going into a restaurant to tell the owner their restaurant has 10,000 health violations and must close down unless they pay the health inspector $500 a month. This $500 monthly payment from the restaurant owner to the health inspector is to guarantee that the health inspector does not write up any of the violations.

Under the federal statute, the health inspector demanding the payment from the restaurant owner would be committing extortion. The health inspector is using their government position to get someone to pay them money. Being knowledgeable on extortion charges will help someone with understanding the Civil RICO act in Michigan.

Fraud

The most common violation of the RICO Act would be someone committing fraud. This usually involved an individual using mailing, wire communications, or phone communications to further the fraud by making erroneous representations in mailings, over the phone, or through the internet. The government could use this activity as evidence of a pattern of racketeering activity.

A violation does not have to be false as each separate mailing, wired communication, or phone call designed to defraud people could be a separate violation.

Pursuing Monetary Damages

Monetary damages have to establish how much an individual actually lost as a result of the violation committed. However, the statute allows treble damages so if an individual lost $500,000 because of the improper conduct of the offenders, the person is entitled to recoup up to $1.5 million. Treble damages allow someone to receive triple the amount of the damages.

Other Types of Civil RICO Actions Available

When filing a suit, the first thing an individual has to do is identify the enterprise that they are saying is conducting the pattern of racketeering. The enterprise could be a bank or a government office, but also a group of three or four people who got together for a unified purpose to commit the crime.

An individual has to determine in a RICO case is what enterprise an individual believes is being operated to the pattern of racketeering activity and then an individual has to identify the individuals involved in that conduct to start a case.

An individual can also make the enterprise a group of companies. It does not have to be one company, it could be three or four companies on the case. If you have any questions about understanding the Civil RICO Act in Michigan, contact a seasoned attorney today.