Order Code RS21214
May 6, 2002
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
RICO: Legislative Activity in the
American Law Division
The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions
outlaw the use of various state and federal crimes (RICO predicates) to acquire,
maintain, or conduct the activities of a formal or informal enterprise whose activities
affect interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1965. Violations subject
offenders to criminal penalties and civil liability.
The USA PATRIOT Act added terrorist offenses to the list of RICO predicates.
Other proposals introduced in the 107th Congress address offenses that their sponsors
believe should be classified as RICO predicates. Still others would expand the remedies
available to the victims of RICO violations.
RICO has figured in the appropriations process as well. The Justice Department
has on several occasions unsuccessfully sought a specific appropriation to fund its RICO
civil suit against several major tobacco companies (United States v. Philip Morris, 116
F.Supp. 2d 131 (D.D.C. 2000), see e.g., Department of Commerce, Justice, and State,
the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations for 2000: Hearings Before a
Subcomm. on the House Comm. on Appropriations, Pt.2, 106th Cong., 1st Sess. 429
(1999). In lieu of the alternative means of funding approved in the past, 28 U.S.C. 509
note, the President’s budget for FY2003 calls for direct appropriation support.
Related CRS Reports include CRS Report 96-950, RICO: A Brief Sketch; CRS
Report RS20736, RICO: An Abridged Sketch; CRS Report RS20377, RICO: Legislative
Activity in the 106th Congress; and CRS Report RS20091, The Federal Lawsuit Against
Tobacco Companies to Recover Health Care Costs.
Summary of Legislation
P.L. 107-56 (H.R. 3162) (Rep.Sensenbrenner et al.): Section 813 of the Uniting and
Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act adds the terrorist offenses identified in 18
U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B) to the RICO predicate list. A similar provision appeared as section
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
814 in S.1510 as introduced in, and passed by, the Senate; as section 813 in H.R. 2975 as
passed by the House; and as section 813 in H.R. 3108 as passed by the House; section 304
of H.R. 2975, both as introduced and as reported out of the House Committee on the
Judiciary, included a similar but more selective list terrorist offenses which it would have
add to the list of RICO predicates.
S. 2010 (Sen. Leahy et al.): Section 3 of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability
Act of 2002, as introduced, would amend the civil remedies section of RICO, 18 U.S.C.
1964, (1) to permit state Attorneys General and the Securities and Exchange Commission
to invoke the extraordinary equitable powers of the federal courts in order to prevent
RICO violations; and (2) to estop convicted RICO defendants from denying similar
allegations in civil proceedings brought by the states. As now written, section authorizes
the U.S. Attorney General to invoke the equitable powers of the court, 18 U.S.C. 1964(b),
and convicted RICO defendants are estopped from denying similar allegation is civil
proceedings brought by the United States, 18 U.S.C. 1964(d).
H.R. 3644 (Rep. Conyers et al.): As originally enacted, 18 U.S.C. 1964 entitled those
injury in their business or property by any RICO violation to treble damages. The Section
was amended to exclude causes of action based on allegations of fraud in the purchase or
sale of securities (unless the defendant had been convicted). Section 2 of the Securities
Fraud Prevention Act of 2002 would repeal the exception and return section 1964(c) to
its original state.
S. 1236 (Sens. Feinstein & Hatch.): Section 8(b)(4) of the Criminal Gang Abatement Act
of 2001 would add to the list of RICO predicates, serious felonies (i.e., murder;
kidnaping; arson; robbery; bribery; extortion; and dealing in obscene material, controlled
substances or listed chemicals) that would have been punishable under state law had they
not been committed in Indian country or within a federal enclave (under the exclusive
special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in Indian country under
the major crimes act (18 U.S.C. 1151)).
S. 1742 (Sen. Cantwell): Section 4 of the Restore Your Identity Act of 2001 would add
state felonies involving identification documents to the list of RICO predicates.
S. 1775 (Sen. Hutchinson)/H.R. 2060 (Rep. Nethercutt)/H.R. 2795 (Rep.Nethercutt with
Reps. Chambliss & Cunningham): Section 2 of the Agroterrorism Prevention Act of 2001
would amend the animal enterprise terrorism provisions (18 U.S.C. 43) to include plant
enterprise terrorism. Section 4 of the bill would add the amended section 43 to the list of
S. 2091 (Sen. Torricelli): Section 2(c) of the Gun Kingpin Penalty Act would make RICO
predicate offenses of:
- 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(1)(A)(unlicensed importation, manufacture or dealing in
- 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3)(interstate transportation or receipt of firearm)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(5)(transfer of firearm to person from another state)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(6)(false statements made in acquisition of firearm or ammunition
from a licensee)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(disposition of firearm or ammunition to a prohibited person)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(receipt of firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(h)(receipt of firearm or ammunition on behalf of a prohibited
- 18 U.S.C. 922(i)(transportation of stolen firearm or ammunition)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(j)(receipt of stolen firearm or ammunition)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(k)(transportation or receipt of firearm with altered serial number)
- 18 U.S.C. 922(z)(gunrunning)
- 18 U.S.C. 924(b)(shipment or receipt of firearm for use in a crime).
H.R. 2978 (Rep. Roukema): Section 303(b) of the Money Laundering Prevention Act
would add burglary and embezzlement punishable as felonies under state law to the list
of RICO predicates.
H.R. 3275 (Rep. Smith (Tex.): Section 102(a) of the Terrorist Bombing Convention
Implementation Act of 2001 would outlaw bombings condemned by the Convention (18
U.S.C. 2332f). Section 103(e) would add section 2332f to the list of RICO predicates.
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