Las Vegas Attorney for Nevada and Federal Racketeering / RICO Charges
Experienced Criminal Defense Law Firm in Clark County, Nevada
Criminal racketeering charges under the Nevada and federal RICO laws are extremely serious. Conviction can result in severe penalties. An aggressive defense is essential.
The acronym RICO comes from the federal statute named the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Nevada also has a state law that is also referred to as a RICO statute. Both RICO laws apply to much more than just traditional organized crime activities. The statutes can apply to any organized, coordinated crimes, whether the activity occurs in conjunction with a legal or illegal business or activity.
If you're facing federal or Nevada RICO charges, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten will vigorously defend you. He will use his substantial trial and investigative experience to secure the best possible result for you.
RICO Activities and Investigations
The term racketeering originates from use of the description “operating a racket” to refer to illegal business operations run by organized crime syndicates. Racketeering involves commission, attempt, or conspiracy to commit two or more related crimes that share common distinguishing characteristics. Nevada and federal RICO statutes address a wide range of racketeering conduct that can constitute violation of the laws.
Racketeering can include illegal activities like prostitution, drug trafficking, illegal gambling operations, money laundering, and burglary or theft rings. Law enforcement also uses RICO laws to target organized white-collar crime and racketeering conduct that underlies otherwise legal activity. Authorities use the laws to prosecute systematic illegal criminal activity in many different contexts.
Nevada and federal authorities take RICO violations very seriously. They devote significant resources to investigating potential RICO violations. Any suspicious pattern of criminal activity is subject to extensive investigation — usually by multiple law enforcement agencies. RICO investigations can extend over a long period, even years.
A person whose criminal conduct falls under RICO can be charged with violating RICO in addition to being charged for the underlying crimes. RICO charges significantly increase the potential penalties for any criminal defendant.
Nevada RICO Statute
RICO statutes are extremely complex. Several key definitions underlie the offenses defined in the statute.
The Nevada RICO law defines specific crimes that constitute crimes related to racketeering. The statute lists thirty-seven (37) different categories of offenses. Some categories include multiple related offenses. Crimes related to racketeering include the Nevada crimes of:
- Manslaughter other than vehicular manslaughter
- Felony battery
- Sexual assault
- Non-robbery offenses that involve taking property from another person
- Statutory sexual seduction
- Extortionate collection of debt
- Identity theft
- Financial forgery laboratory establishment or possession
- Felony offenses for resisting a public officer
- Grand larceny
- Felony bribery or asking for or receiving a bribe
- Battery with intent to commit a crime
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Specific violations of the Nevada Uniform Controlled Substances Act
- Receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle
- Specific violations of Nevada laws on Dangerous Weapons and Firearms
- Specific violations of Nevada gaming laws and gaming license laws
- Receiving, possessing or withholding stolen goods valued at $650 or more
- Embezzlement of property or money valued at $650 or more
- Obtaining possession of money or property valued at $650 or more, or obtaining a signature by means of false pretenses
- Perjury or subornation of perjury
- Offering false evidence
- Specific offenses relating to sex trafficking, pandering, and prostitution
- Specific offenses relating to fraud, including insurance fraud
- Specific offenses relating to information services, including telephone service
- Violation of Nevada laws on acts of terrorism or attempted terrorism and acts related to weapons of mass destruction, lethal agents, toxins and delivery systems
- Involuntary servitude in violation of specific Nevada statutes
- Human trafficking violations of specific Nevada statutes
Racketeering activity involves engaging in two or more crimes related to racketeering (as listed above) that have “the same or similar pattern, intents, results, accomplices, victims or methods of commission, or are otherwise interrelate by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents.” Under the Nevada RICO law, the most recent incident must have occurred within five (5) years after a prior commission of a crime related to racketeering.
Two other definitions are important in RICO violations:
- A criminal syndicate is an organization that engages in racketeering activity, structured to continue existing and operating regardless of whether specific individuals join or leave the operation.
- An enterprise includes any person, business, or legal entity, as well as groups and associations of people that are not legal entities. An enterprise can be a legal or illegal entity or group.
The Nevada RICO statute defines the unlawful acts that constitute violation of the law. They encompass a broad range of conduct relating to racketeering. The conduct can relate to organized, ongoing illegal activity (criminal syndicate) or to any illegal or otherwise legal activity (enterprise).
The law provides that it is illegal for a person to:
- Use or invest proceeds from racketeering activity to acquire any interest in real property or acquire any interest in or the establishment or operation of any enterprise;
- Acquire or maintain an interest in or control of any enterprise through racketeering activity;
- Conduct or participate in racketeering activity through the affairs of an enterprise or conduct or participate in the affairs of the enterprise through racketeering activity, when employed by or associated with the enterprise;
- Intentionally organize, manage, direct, supervise or finance a criminal syndicate;
- Knowingly incite or induce others to engage in violence or intimidation to promote or further the criminal objectives of a criminal syndicate;
- Furnish advice, assistance, or direction in the conduct, financing, or management of the affairs of a criminal syndicate, with the intent to promote or advance the criminal objectives of the syndicate;
- Intentionally promote or advance the criminal objectives of a criminal syndicate by inducing the commission of an act or the omission of an act by a public officer or employee in violation of his or her official duty;
- Transport property, attempt to transport property, or provide property to another person, knowing that the other person intends to use the property to further racketeering activity;
- Conduct or attempt to conduct a transaction involving proceeds of illegal activity with the intention of furthering racketeering activity or knowing that the transaction conceals the location, source, ownership, or control of the property;
- Conspire to violate any of the provisions of the statute.
Violation of the Nevada RICO provisions is a category B felony, punishable by a prison term of five (5) to twenty (20) years and a fine up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). The court may impose an alternative fine of up to:
- Three times the amount of gross financial gain of the convicted person, or
- Three times the financial loss (including property damage and personal injury excluding pain and suffering) caused by the convicted person.
A convicted defendant may also be assessed court costs, as well as reasonable costs of investigation and prosecution.
In addition to the potential penalties for RICO violations, the law provides for both criminal and civil forfeiture of any property used in violation of the statute. In addition, any individual injured by a violation of the RICO law may file civil action against the convicted person. Damages in a civil action are set at three (3) times the actual damages sustained, attorney’s fees, and court and investigation costs.
Federal RICO Statute
Nevada based its RICO statute on the federal RICO law, so the provisions of the federal law are very similar. However, the period applicable to commission of related crimes of racketeering under the federal law is ten (10) years, rather than the five-year period set by the Nevada law.
In addition, penalties under the federal statute differ and usually are more harsh. The penalties can be based on the specific crimes committed in furtherance of the illegal business operation.
Defending Against RICO Charges
If you are facing federal or state RICO charges, potential penalties can be extremely severe. Experienced criminal defense Attorney Joseph Gersten will aggressively defend you against these complex charges.
Each RICO case involves unique circumstances. Investigating all underlying facts can provide the basis for a defense. Depending on the situation, it may be possible to prove that the activities in question are not related, criminal intent was not present, evidence was illegally obtained by law enforcement, or the prosecution’s case is not sufficient to meet all the required elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Attorney Gersten’s investigative and analytical background is extremely beneficial in RICO cases. Ascertaining the underlying facts is critical in asserting an effective defense.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Las Vegas Racketeering / RICO Defense Attorney
If you are facing a state or federal RICO charges in Las Vegas, Henderson, or elsewhere in Clark County, Las Vegas attorney Joseph Gersten will discuss and evaluate your case based on his extensive investigative and criminal defense experience. Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.