Iowa's State RICO Statute: Wreaking Havoc on Iowa's Criminal Justice System

Author:Anna T. Stoeffler
Position:J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2017; B.A., The University of Dubuque, 2013
Pages:825-850
N4_STOEFFLER(DONOTDELETE) 12/27/20162:02PM
825
Iowa’s State RICO Statute:
Wreaking Havoc on Iowa’s Criminal
Justice System
Anna T. Stoeffler*
ABSTRACT: Iowa’s Ongoing Criminal Conduct Act (“IOCCA”) was
patterned after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
Act (“RICO”) and the Model Ongoing Criminal Conduct Act (“Model Act”).
Yet, it exceeds the reach and intent of these acts, especially by excluding key
provisions of the Model Act’s definition of “specified unlawful activity,”
which limited its application to racketeering offenses or offenses characteristic
of organized crime. This variation broadens the scope of people who can be
charged under the IOCCA—a Class B felony with a 25-year sentence—
thereby creating a prosecution tool to over-charge and intimidate defendants
into taking plea deals. The ability to charge virtually any individual who
commits two felonies in succession with an additional Class B felony for
ongoing criminal conduct undermines the intent of the federal RICO statute
and the Model Act to protect legitimate commerce from organized crime. It is
also contrary to the principles of fairness and justice that society expects of the
criminal justice system. This Note advocates that the Iowa Legislature
constrict the reach of the IOCCA so that it only criminalizes what it was truly
meant to combat: racketeering and organized crime. In doing so, this Note
examines the problems and inefficiencies of the IOCCA, as well as the RICO
statutes of other states, to determine the most effective approach to protect
legitimate commerce from organized crime.
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 827
II. BACKGROUND ............................................................................... 830
* J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2017; B.A., The University of
Dubuque, 2013. Thank you to Joe Fraioli (Iowa Law Class of 2013) for introducing me to this
topic and assisting me with its development; to the staff of Volumes 101 and 102 of the Iowa Law
Review for their help on this Note; to Jenn Supple Bartels for her friendship; and to my parents
for their continued support. Finally, a special thank you to Ben Bartels, my pre-law advisor at the
University of Dubuque, for fueling my fire for the law, challenging me to become my best, and
encouraging me every step of the way.
826 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 102:825
A. FEDERAL RICO, THE MODEL ACT, AND THE RISE OF IOWAS
STATE RICO STATUTE ............................................................. 830
B. THE IOCCA: A REFLECTION OF THE MODEL ACT, IF ONLY IN
A BROKEN MIRROR .................................................................. 832
C. STATE V. REED AND STATE V. OLSEN: A DYNAMIC DUO OF
IOWA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS WITH DYNAMIC EFFECTS ON
THE SCOPE OF IOWAS ONGOING CRIMINAL CONDUCT ACT ........ 834
III. MORE CRIMINAL ACTS FOR FINANCIAL GAIN, MORE PROBLEMS .. 837
A. A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF IOWAS ONGOING CRIMINAL
CONDUCT ACT ........................................................................ 838
B. COMBATING ORGANIZED CRIME OR ABUSING THE “SPECIFIED
UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY CATEGORY OF THE IOCCA FOR
PROSECUTORIAL GAIN? ........................................................... 839
1. The Technical Fouls of the IOCCA’s Broad Reach .... 840
2. Plea Considerations on Ongoing Criminal Conduct
for “Specified Unlawful Activity” .................................. 842
IV. THE IOWA LEGISLATURE SHOULD ADOPT A NEW STATE RICO
STATUTE ....................................................................................... 846
A. STEP ONE: PROVIDE A STATEMENT OF PURPOSE ........................ 847
B. STEP TWO: REFORM THE DEFINITION OF “SPECIFIED UNLAWFUL
ACTIVITY TO EXPRESSLY STATE WHICH CRIMES OR CATEGORIES
OF CRIMES CONSTITUTE ONGOING CRIMINAL CONDUCT FOR
“SPECIFIED UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY ............................................ 848
C. STEP THREE: REQUIRE PROSECUTORS TO ALLEGE AT LEAST TWO
INTERRELATED ACTS OF “SPECIFIED UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY
ASSOCIATED WITH RACKETEERING OR ORGANIZED CRIME IN THEIR
CHARGING INFORMATION ........................................................ 849
V. CONCLUSION ................................................................................ 850

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