organizations without a proﬁt-motive.
However, the “liberal construction” clause
is not without limits—it is “not an invitation to apply RICO to new purposes that
Congress never intended.”
Prosecutors bring charges under the RICO statute in a wide variety of criminal
Since the statute has broad applicability, the requisite mens rea is
merely that of the “predicate acts,” or underlying offenses.
Further, it imposes
severe sanctions that supplement those a defendant faces for each underlying
RICO also provides a private right of action for any person “injured in his busi-
ness or property” by a RICO violation.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1964, the Attorney
or a private plaintiff
may bring a civil action in either state or federal
and if a ﬁnal judgment is entered against the defendant in any criminal pro-
ceeding also brought under RICO, the defendant is estopped from denying the
predicate acts in subsequent civil proceedings.
RICO provides equitable relief
through divestiture of the defendant’s interest in the enterprise, restrictions on the
defendant’s future activities or investments, and dissolution or reorganization of
11. See NOW I, 510 U.S. at 258 (holding abortion clinics could maintain RICO action against anti-abortion
groups even if the anti-abortion groups had no economic motive).
12. See Reves v. Ernst & Young, 507 U.S. 170, 183 (1993) (holding that RICO defendants must have
participated in the “operation or management” of the enterprise); Baisch v. Gallina, 346 F.3d 366, 376 (2d Cir.
2003) (citing Reves, 507 U.S. at 170); see also Republic of Iraq v. ABB AG, 768 F.3d 145, 162–63 (2d Cir. 2014)
(holding civil RICO claims do not preclude the common law defense of in pari delicto); Attorney Gen. of Canada
v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., 268 F.3d 103, 129 (2d Cir. 2001) (concluding language of RICO and
legislative history do not indicate RICO affords a civil remedy to a foreign nation for tax evasion by a U.S.
company); Chappell v. Robbins, 73 F.3d 918, 921–23 (9th Cir. 1996) (declining to presume RICO abrogates
common law legislative immunity protection absent clear legislative intent or statutory language).
13. See generally G. Robert Blakey & John Robert Blakey, Civil and Criminal RICO: An Overview of the
Statute and Its Operations, 64 DEF. COUNS. J. 36, 43 (1997) (discussing the breadth of RICO prosecutions). Since
the passage of RICO, thirty States have adopted similar legislation to address organized crime within their
jurisdiction. See A. Laxmidas Sawkar, From the Maﬁa to Milking Cows: State RICO Act Expansion, 41 ARIZ. L.
REV. 1133, 1135 (1999) (noting the expansive growth of state RICO statutes and the ever-increasing expansive
use of those statutes).
14. See infra Part II.B (deﬁning “predicate acts”); Gil Ramirez Grp., L.L.C. v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 786
F.3d 400, 412 (5th Cir. 2015) (“RICO requires demonstrating an underlying criminal act, which entails a mens
rea requirement. . . .”); United States v. Rosenthal, 334 F. App’x 841, 843 (9th Cir. 2009) (holding intent to
commit predicate act satisﬁes mens rea requirement); Bruner Corp. v. R.A. Bruner Co., 133 F.3d 491, 495 (7th
Cir. 1998) (noting mens rea requirement is satisﬁed if defendant knew predicate offense was illegal); United
States v. Baker, 63 F.3d 1478, 1493 (9th Cir. 1995) (“The mens rea element necessary for a substantive RICO
conviction is the same as is required for the predicate crime. . . .” (alteration in original) (citing United States v.
Scotto, 641 F.2d 47, 55–56 (2d Cir. 1980))).
15. 18 U.S.C. § 1963.
16. Id. § 1964.
17. Id. § 1964(b).
18. Id. § 1964(c).
19. See Tafﬂin v. Levitt, 493 U.S. 455, 458 (1990) (holding state and federal courts have concurrent
jurisdiction over claims arising under § 1964(c)). RICO also reaches foreign conduct if the acts establishing a
pattern of racketeering violated a predicate statute that is itself extraterritorial. RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European
Cmty., 136 S. Ct. 2090, 2103 (2016) (concluding RICO applies to some foreign racketeering activity).
20. 18 U.S.C. § 1964(d).
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