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Civil RICO 



At Dilendorf Law Firm, we prioritize our clients’ needs and concerns, especially when facing the complexities of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as the RICO Act.

The RICO Act, originally aimed at organized crime, has a civil side that allows businesses and individuals to seek damages for ongoing illegal activities tied to an enterprise.

Unlike the criminal part of RICO, which deals with prison and fines, Civil RICO can lead to financial compensation – often three times the actual damages plus attorney’s fees.

Given the serious impact of RICO claims on finances and reputation, quick and informed action is crucial. These aren’t typical disputes; they can shape the future of a business or individual.



Dilendorf Law Firm offers experienced legal counsel in Civil RICO cases, tackling complex racketeering disputes with a practical, results-oriented approach.

Potential Penalties and Consequences

Potential Financial Penalties

The financial repercussions of a successful Civil RICO claim can be substantial. Plaintiffs are entitled to “treble damages”, which means they can receive three times the amount of their proven actual damages.

Additionally, in some cases, the court might award the prevailing party attorney’s fees, adding to the overall financial burden.

Asset Forfeiture Implications

One of the sterner consequences of Civil RICO is the possibility of asset forfeiture. If certain assets were acquired or maintained through the proceeds of racketeering activity, they could be seized.

This can include tangible assets like property, or intangible ones like business interests or stock holdings.

Reputational Damage and its Long-Term Effects

Beyond the direct financial implications, a Civil RICO claim can severely tarnish an individual’s or company’s reputation.

Such allegations, even if later proven false or dismissed, can lead to lost business opportunities, strained professional relationships, and public mistrust.

The lingering effects of a damaged reputation can last years and impact future business endeavors and partnerships.

Defending Against Civil RICO Allegations

Navigating Civil RICO claims can be complex. Here’s a straightforward guide on how to approach these allegations:

  • Know the Basics

For a RICO claim, a plaintiff must prove an ongoing criminal enterprise, the defendant’s involvement, and at least two acts of criminal activity. Know these points; they’re where most claims can be challenged.

  • Question the ‘Enterprise’

If you can show there wasn’t a structured “enterprise” or organized effort behind the alleged activities, the claim might fall apart.

  • Dispute Continuity

If the alleged illegal activities were random or one-off events, argue that they don’t form a “pattern” of racketeering.

  • Time Limits

If the plaintiff waited more than four years after realizing their injury to file the claim, it’s too late.

  • Challenge the Direct Harm

If the harm wasn’t directly because of the alleged RICO violation, that’s a solid defense point.

  • Use Solid Evidence

Counter allegations with clear evidence: financial records, emails, or any relevant documents that prove your point.

  • Consider Settling

Sometimes, it’s better to settle than go to trial. It can save time, money, and avoid public attention.

  • Know Recent Cases

Stay updated on recent RICO cases. They can give hints on how a court might view your case.

  • Get Experts on Your Side

In tricky cases, experts can provide clarity and support your defense with specialized knowledge.

  • Hire a Good Lawyer

Having a knowledgeable lawyer familiar with RICO is essential. They’ll guide you through the process and build a strong defense.

At Dilendorf Law Firm, we’re here to help, guide, and fight for you every step of the way.

10 Questions About Civil RICO

  1. What is Civil RICO, and how does it differ from Criminal RICO?
  • Answer: Civil RICO allows affected parties to file lawsuits and seek damages due to a pattern of racketeering activity. Criminal RICO deals with penal consequences like imprisonment and fines. While both can stem from similar activities, Civil RICO focuses on compensating victims, whereas Criminal RICO penalizes wrongdoers.
  1. How is “racketeering activity” defined?
  • Answer: Racketeering encompasses a wide range of illegal activities, including bribery, fraud, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, and money laundering, among others. The RICO Act provides a specific list of qualifying offenses.
  1. Can any business or individual be subject to a Civil RICO claim?
  • Answer: Yes. If a business or individual engages in a pattern of racketeering activities as part of an ongoing enterprise, they can be subject to a Civil RICO claim, regardless of their industry or profession.
  1. What needs to be proven for a successful Civil RICO claim?
  • Answer: The plaintiff needs to demonstrate the existence of an enterprise, a pattern of racketeering activity by the defendant associated with that enterprise, and quantifiable damage caused by such activities.
  1. What kind of damages can be awarded in Civil RICO cases?
  • Answer: Plaintiffs can potentially recover “treble damages,” meaning three times the actual damages they’ve suffered. Additionally, in some cases, the court may award attorney’s fees.
  1. What is meant by a “pattern” in racketeering activities?
  • Answer: A “pattern” requires at least two acts of racketeering activity within ten years. It demonstrates continuous, related racketeering activities rather than isolated incidents.
  1. How can assets be forfeited in a Civil RICO case?
  • Answer: If assets were acquired or maintained through the proceeds of racketeering activity, they could be subject to seizure or forfeiture under RICO provisions.
  1. Are there any defenses against Civil RICO allegations?
  • Answer: Yes. Common defenses include arguing the absence of a pattern, lack of a distinct enterprise, that the claim is beyond the statute of limitations, or that the defendant’s actions did not directly cause harm.
  1. Can a Civil RICO case be settled outside of court?
  • Answer: Yes. Often, parties may find it beneficial to negotiate settlements or plea agreements to resolve the matter without going through a full trial.
  1. How can I protect my business from potential Civil RICO claims?
  • Answer: It’s essential to maintain clear, legal business practices and continuously review and update contracts and company policies. Regular legal consultations can help identify potential vulnerabilities and ensure you’re compliant with all relevant laws.

Facing Civil RICO allegations can be complex and daunting. At Dilendorf Law Firm, we are committed to providing our clients with the experience and guidance they need to navigate these challenges effectively.

Contact Us

If you’re facing Civil RICO allegations or have concerns about potential legal challenges, don’t wait. Reach out to us at (212) 457-9797 or via email

Government Resources and Samples

  1. Civil RICO | Model Jury Instructions
  2. Civil RICO: A Manual for Federal Attorneys
  3. RICO: A Brief Sketch
  4. Brief Of Washington Legal Foundation
  5. Review of Safe Injection Site Legal Issues | Commonwealth of Massachusetts Harm Reduction Commission
  6. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  7. The Civil RICO Pattern Requirement: Continuity and Relationship, a Fatal Attraction?
  8. Civil RICO: A Call for a Uniform Statute of Limitations
  9. Civil Rico: Before and After Sedima
  10. The RICO Lottery and the Gains Multiplication Approach
  11. Exercising the Passive Virtues in Interpreting Civil RICO “Business or Property
  12. Causation and Civil RICO Standing: When Is a Plaintiff Injured “By Reason of” a RICO Violation?
  13. Rethinking Civil RICO: The Vexing Problem of Causation in FraudBased Claims Under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c)
  14. Civil RICO Reform: The Gatekeeper Concept
  15. Some Practical Implications of Civil RICO Cases
  16. RICO Civil Fraud Action in Context: Reflections on Bennett v. Berg
  17. Equitable Relief Under Civil RICO: Reflection on Religious Technology Center v. Wallersheim: Will Civil RICO Be Effective Only Against White-Collar Crime?
  18. Reviewing Civil RICO: A Definitive Guide. 2d ed.
  19. Concurrent Jurisdiction Over Civil Rico Claims
  20. The Pattern Requirement of Civil RICO
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