What are Organized Crimes in Philadelphia?

Organized crimes are committed in the context of operating an illegal business. They involve an association of criminals running an organized scheme for profit. 

At the federal level, organized crimes are dealt with under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), introduced by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. 

RICO targets racketeering activities done as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Under RICO, both individuals and whole enterprises can be the subject of criminal investigation and prosecution, as well as civil penalties, for participating in organized crime. 

Many states have enacted similar anti-organized crime legislation. This includes Philadelphia.

Before RICO, it was difficult for authorities to prosecute the top-level members of a criminal organization, as they were not personally committing the crimes that allowed the organization to exist. Historically used to prosecute mob-related crime, RICO has since been used to target corrupt politicians, police, and judges, as well as white collar criminals and the Hells Angels gang. 

Examples of Organized Crime Charges in Pennsylvania 

To be convicted under RICO, a defendant must have engaged in racketeering activities on at least two occasions. A defendant must have also participated, invested in, or otherwise had an interest in a criminal enterprise involving interstate or foreign commerce.

The predicate (underlying) offenses of racketeering activity include:

  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • Drug trafficking
  • Kidnapping
  • Money laundering
  • Illegal gambling
  • Acts of terrorism
  • Slavery 
  • Counterfeiting

RICO imposes harsh penalties on anyone convicted in relation to organized crime.

Penalties in Philadelphia for Organized Crime 

A conviction under RICO can attract large fines and up to 20 years’ imprisonment. This increases to life imprisonment if the penalty for the predicate offense is also life.

There are also severe financial consequences. A defendant’s assets can be frozen pre-trial and later forfeited to the government as proceeds of crime. The court can also order a defendant to cease an illegal activity and take steps to repair the harm, such as paying compensation and restitution to victims. 

Under RICO, private citizens can bring a civil lawsuit if they experienced financial losses as a result of racketeering activity. This can result in a defendant being ordered to pay significant damages and legal fees in addition to any criminal penalty. 

What To Do If Under Investigation in Pennsylvania for Organized Crime

Speak to an attorney

When it comes to potential RICO charges, it’s never too early to involve an attorney. So if you become aware that you’re being investigated for participating in suspected organized crime, the first thing you should do is contact me to review your case and give you advice relevant to your circumstances.  

Do not interview without first speaking to an attorney

If you’re being investigated under RICO, federal authorities may ask you to participate in an interview. However, you should never do so without first speaking with an experienced attorney well-versed in organized crime investigations and prosecutions. Call (267) 931-7900 today to schedule a free consultation about your case.