What is RICO? What types of penalties can be provided under it?
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RICO is the acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1970. RICO was passed to eliminate organized crime, or the "mafia," While it has been effective in working toward that goal, however, since the 1970s RICO has been applied to many other types of organized criminal enterprises, such as those involving legitimate businesses and even gang activities. In short, RICO's reach is much broader then first thought and, because wire and mail fraud are illegal under it, it can include a great deal of activity once not asociated with the "mafia."
RICO can be used by the federal government to bring criminal charges against a party. Criminal penalties under RICO include fines of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of gross profits or losses caused by the criminal activity. Criminal penalties can also include imprisonment of up to 20 years or even life in prison in some cases as well as requiring the forfeiture of any property used in the criminal enterprise to the government. RICO can also be used by private persons to bring civil claims against any person who conducts an activity which is illegal under RICO that causes them personal or business harm to collect money for the harm caused to them.
What general duty do professionals owe? To whom is this duty owed?
Normally, there are several duties professional owe their clients and their co-workers, but chief among these is their fiduciary duty. Professionals owe their clients a fiduciary duty to act in their best interests and to protect them against any harm. Under this fiduciary duty are included the duty to prevent conflicts of interest, the duty to abide by any ethical codes held by the profession, and the duty to maintain confidentiality. It is by honoring this duty that professionals can maintain the dignity of their profession and obtain the trust of their clients and co-workers.