The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO) is a United States federal law which provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-452, 84 Stat. 922 (15 October 1970). RICO is codified as Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 through 18 U.S.C. § 1968.
Under RICO, a person or group who commits any two of 35 crimes 27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes within a 10-year period and, in the opinion of the United States Attorney bringing the case, has committed those crimes with similar purpose or results can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.”
When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, he has the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. This provision was placed in the law because the owners of shell corporations often absconded with the assets. An injunction and/or performance bond ensures that there is something to seize in the event of a guilty verdict.
There is also a provision for private parties to sue. A “person damaged in his business or property” can sue one or more “racketeers.” There must also be an “enterprise.” The defendant(s) are not the enterprise, in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same. There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise. This lawsuit, like all Federal civil lawsuits, can take place in either Federal or State court.
Both the federal and civil components allow for triple damages.
LAW OFFICE ANNOUNCES INVESTIGATION OF LAWYERS, VENDORS AND MANAGEMENT COMPANIES OF CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS FOR RICO ACT VIOLATIONS AND OTHER CLAIMS
Information Requested from Attorneys and from the Public
The Law Offices of Gottschalk & Associates announced today that it is launching a RICO investigation of lawyers and management companies for homeowners’ associations in California. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Congress initially passed this legislation to combat organized crime. However, subsequent Federal and State case law has significantly expanded the use of the RICO Act. The investigation is also examining violations of other laws. Such alleged documented claims include, but are not limited to, bribery, kickback, obstruction of justice, unlawful foreclosure, bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, Internet fraud, insurance fraud, sub-prime lending fraud, and debt collection torts. An investigation does not imply, and is not intended to imply, that a particular party has committed these alleged violations.
Homeowners who currently live or formerly lived in homeowners’ associations that have information about potential violations by lawyers, management companies and other vendors, should forward this at once to the Law Offices of Gottschalk and Associates. The law firm is looking into information on law firms, vendors and management companies in Southern California, and is looking for homeowner association plaintiffs for class action lawsuits. You are requested to forward debt collection letters, bills for excessive fees not due and copies of their complaints and lawsuits, wrongful foreclosure notices, wrongful liens, etc. You should also report whether you have been threatened with lawsuits and/or other retaliatory actions for disclosing this information. Please advise whether you wish to be considered as a Plaintiff Class Representative in a class action and whether or not you are a Board Member of the Association. Homeowners who already are represented by an attorney are requested to have their attorneys contact Gottschalk and Associates with the information.
If you have information you believe could be valuable to the continuing investigation, please fax the information to toll free to Gottschalk & Associates at: 1 (877) 284-3067. Whistleblowers will be protected under law.
Gottschalk & Associates will treat all information as confidential. Please fax your information and supporting documents for this investigation to Gottschalk & Associates toll free at: 1 (877) 284-3067
Gottschalk & Associates
Additional reference source: http://ricoact.com.