Federal conspiracy and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws are designed to prosecute individuals and organizations for involvement in criminal enterprises.


The RICO Act is used to prevent and combat organized crime and white-collar crime. The statute provides for the prosecution of individuals or organizations who engage in racketeering activities, conspiracies, and money laundering. A violation of RICO can lead to severe criminal charges and civil penalties, including fines and asset seizure.

Federal conspiracy is a serious charge that can lead to criminal penalties, including lengthy prison sentences. Due to the complex nature of these laws, it is essential to seek legal counsel immediately if one suspects being a target of or investigation for RICO or federal conspiracy charges. 


❗Interestingly, a Bureau of Justice Statistics report revealed that federal RICO charges had increased by 7.5% in the last decade, making the information discussed here even more critical.

Get In Touch With Us Now - We're Here To Help!

Understanding the Basics of the RICO Act Under the United States Code

The RICO Act, formally known as Title 18, Chapter 96 of the United States Code, was enacted in 1970. Originally designed to combat Mafia groups, it has broadened over the years to encompass a variety of organizations, from street gangs to white-collar businesses. RICO is essentially an anti-corruption law targeting those who engage in a "pattern of racketeering activity" connected to an "enterprise."


The term "racketeering" might bring images of old-school mobsters to mind, but the definition is much more comprehensive under RICO. It includes many crimes, such as bribery, gambling, murder, arson, robbery, and fraud.


It's one thing to commit a crime but another to conspire or conduct an ongoing criminal enterprise. That's where RICO strikes, aiming to dismantle individual criminals and entire corrupt organizations.


The Intersection of Federal Conspiracy Laws and RICO

The relationship between federal conspiracy laws and RICO is like that between a net and the fish it captures. While separate, they often intertwine in cases involving ongoing criminal activity. A RICO charge essentially alleges that the defendant has engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, often in conspiracy with others.


Conspiracy charges are typically brought when two or more people agree to commit a crime and then take some action toward its completion. This overlap forms the basis of many RICO prosecutions.


However, the intersection of these two can be complex. The United States Code, Title 18, Section 371, defines conspiracy as an agreement to commit any offense against the United States.


The complexity of this lies in the broadness of its application.


In the context of RICO, it becomes even more critical, as it allows the prosecution to cast a wide net, ensuring not only those who directly commit the crime but also those who are part of the larger enterprise.

Arizona’s Stance on Racketeering and Conspiracy

Like federal racketeering laws, Arizona also has its own set of racketeering laws codified in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-2301. Arizona law defines racketeering as committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or aiding and abetting a long list of crimes, much like the United States Code does for RICO.


A.R.S. 13-2301 characterizes racketeering by including both "white-collar crimes" and "blue-collar crimes".


These comprise the following:

  • Conducting fraudulent activities knowingly or recklessly during the acquisition or disposal of securities.
  • Deliberate or inadvertent dissemination of inaccurate statements or announcements about lands for lease or sale, subdivided or un-subdivided lands for sale, and the sale and mortgaging of undivided lands.
  • Submission of unfounded claims, inclusive of fraudulent or arson-related claims.
  • The act of selling real estate with the intent to defraud.
  • Committing theft.
  • Knowingly or recklessly selling unregistered securities or real property securities.
  • Infringing A.R.S. 34-252 by unlawfully restraining trade or commerce.
  • The act of laundering money.
  • Illicit imitation of marks, as forbidden under A.R.S. 44-1453.

In Arizona, the statutes take an aggressive stance against these types of crimes. The state laws mirror federal RICO laws but go even further in some instances, extending the reach of the law to a broader range of crimes and activities.


Thus, it is vital to understand these state-specific laws when dealing with RICO and conspiracy cases in Arizona.

Federal Conspiracy and Racketeering

What Criminal Activities Fall Under the Scope of the RICO Act?

Federal law recognizes racketeering allegations encompass an extensive array of criminal actions, all of which must be associated with an ongoing criminal operation. 


For the RICO Act to be invoked, at least two crimes must be committed within a span of 10 years through the said enterprise.


Typical examples of offenses falling under the RICO Act include:


  • Plans and Schemes
  • Forged Merchandise
  • Electronic Fraud
  • Postal Fraud
  • Illicit Drug Operations
  • Whitewashing Illicit Money
  • Forgery
  • Bank Deception
  • Misappropriation
  • Coercion
  • Fraud in Securities
  • Abduction
  • Illegal Betting
  • Acts of Violence


As previously mentioned, the RICO Act empowers federal authorities to indict individuals or groups engaged in racketeering even if they didn't personally commit the criminal act. It imposes stringent penalties for illegal deeds that financially benefit a criminal organization.


A guilty verdict under the federal RICO Act can lead to a maximum of 20 years of incarceration for each racketeering count.


If the RICO indictment includes capital offenses such as murder, it could result in lifetime imprisonment. The court can also levy massive fines or double the amount of illicit earnings from the racketeering offense.


Moreover, a conviction under the RICO Act might entail asset forfeiture. This implies that the government can confiscate money or property associated with the racketeering activity. However, the prosecutor must prove that the money or property came from illegal activities, was used for such activities, or was bought with money from those activities.

Federal conspiracy and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)

Common Defense Strategies in Federal Conspiracy and RICO Cases

One common defense strategy is to challenge the alleged 'enterprise' or 'pattern of racketeering.' For example, proving that the group in question doesn't constitute an enterprise under the law or that the activities involved don't qualify as a pattern of racketeering can result in charges being dropped.


Another defense often used is the lack of specific intent to commit the alleged crimes. In conspiracy cases, this might mean showing no agreement to commit a crime or that any such agreement was coerced.


However, these strategies are complex and require the expertise of a defense attorney well-versed in both federal and state law. At Kolsrud Law Office, our attorneys are skilled in crafting defense strategies tailored to the specific details of each case.

The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation in Federal Cases

Facing charges of assaulting a federal officer is a serious matter, and the importance of having experienced legal representation cannot be overstated. The right attorney can distinguish between a favorable outcome and a severe sentence.


At Kolsrud Law Office, our seasoned federal defense attorneys bring their vast knowledge and experience to fight tirelessly for your rights and future.

Contact us today to schedule
A FREE CONSULTANT and learn more
about how we can help you.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

Get a Free Initial Consultation:

Please complete our form below to get a free initial consultation
or call us at (480) 999-9444.