Why was the RICO Act created? RICO is a federal law in the United States that provides expanded criminal penalties for committing certain kinds of organized crime. It also provides a civil cause of action for those who are affected by such behavior. The act’s genesis dates back to the late 1960s and was the result of Congressional hearings in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its drafting and sponsoring by G. Robert Blakey and Senator John Little McClellan led to the law’s passage and the signing of President Richard Nixon on 15 October 1970.
Because of its sweeping powers, RICO acts have been a vital tool in the fight against organized crime. In addition to allowing victims to recover triple damages and attorneys’ fees, RICO has been abused in lawsuits. Even simple breach-of-contract cases have been brought under the RICO Act. The stakes are high and the process difficult. In addition, RICO claims can be extremely difficult to defend.
Bringing organized crime members to justice can be a complex process. The 1970s saw a number of crime families clash for power over racketeering enterprises. During these battles, many murders occurred, often in order to prevent a crime member from testifying in a trial. The government eventually enacted the RICO Act to combat organized crime. The government used the law to prosecute a dozen notorious mob families.