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Local Prosecution of Organized Crime: The Use of State RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) Statutes

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1993
This report discusses the implementation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) prosecutions at the local level, the extent of its use, and obstacles to effective use and recommends ways to solve problems of applying RICO to local prosecution.

Data on local use of RICO were obtained through a self- administered mailed questionnaire to a sample (379) of local prosecutors' offices drawn from six strata based on jurisdictional population size. A 40-percent response rate was obtained. Telephone interviews were conducted with 35 prosecutors' offices identified from the mail survey as having prosecuted cases using either State RICO statutes, RICO-like statutes, or a combination of both. The key elements generally required for an indictment under RICO are that the defendant, through a commission of two or more acts constituting a "pattern of racketeering activity," directly or indirectly maintains an interest in or participates in a criminal "enterprise." The study found that although RICO laws are in their infancy, such that local prosecutors may not yet have a sense of the aim or use of these laws, pioneering local prosecutors in larger jurisdictions have had some success in using them. This may well prompt greater experimentation with these laws by prosecutors in smaller jurisdiction. Significant gains in the use of RICO on the local level will only come, however, when an expanded awareness of RICO use is matched by expanded systematic efforts to educate local prosecutors about the most effective and innovative ways to take advantage of these progressive new laws. 16 references

Date Published: October 1, 1993