Ideas Shoot Bullets: How the RICO Act Became a Potent Weapon in the War Against Organized Crime


Mark Gordon
Department of Criminal Justice



Before there was ever a Tony Soprano or a Don Corleone there was Caesar Enrico Bandello, also known as Rico or Little Caesar. Rico was the magnetic mafia character in the popular 1931 film Little Caesar. Based loosely on the life of real mobster Al Capone, Rico Bandello was everything a post-prohibition mobster had to be: Ruthless, violent and ambitious.

In addition to ushering in a new genre of mob-flicks, Little Caesar inspired a young boy named G. Robert Blakey to dedicate his life to fighting the real-life Mafia. As an adult, Blakey would say Rico, played by Edward G. Robinson in the movie, captivated him. He wanted to be a part of that world, but on the side with the ‘good guys,’ fighting organized crime.

          Blakey grew up to have a lengthy career in academia and the law, and became one of America’s most-well known experts on organized crime. His teaching posts included stints with prestigious law schools at Notre Dame and Cornell universities. His law enforcement career included high-ranking posts in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Section and serving as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures (Wallance)1.

          Still, many experts consider Blakey’s greatest accomplishment to be a law he wrote in 1970. Blakey’s goal with the new law was simply defined, yet to actually accomplish the task has been one of the greatest law enforcement struggles ever. The mission: To wipe out the Mafia and all other forms of organized crime.

          The new law was aptly named, too, when considering Blakey’s favorite childhood movie: The law he wrote was called RICO – Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. (Like the good student of Mafia culture Blakey is, he has consistently kept his silence on how much of a coincidence the acronym RICO was in relation to Rico, the Little Caesar lead character. In a 1990 article, Blakey said the theory that there is a connection between the two is a “matter of speculation.” He did not elaborate).

For all its Elliot Ness and Untouchables-like glory, though, the RICO Act has not been without its share of trouble. For starters, the act languished for almost a decade unused. Law enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local police departments bickered with each other over turf wars, and bickered inside each agency as to how powerful the Mafia had become, and if there was even a Mafia at all.  

Even when the value of RICO was discovered and it had became the “A-bomb” for police and prosecutors nationwide, it spurred new problems. Those included constitutional questions like whether the law opened up defendants to double jeopardy concerns. Also, the act, which can carry both criminal and civil penalties, has grown into a treasure chest for lawyers, some looking to right legitimate wrongs, others looking to make a buck off the now widely used law.  Some legal experts and defense lawyers have called RICO “draconian, as a measure that carries considerable potential for abuse” (Calder)2.

The RICO Act, now 32-years-old, has led an interesting life. Highlights include coming to an understanding of exactly what the act is and how it is used in court; tracing back the history of the statute, such as the battle within law enforcement circles to even use the act in the first place; and cases that made the law a star of the war against organized crime, because once federal agents got an understanding of the act and began applying it, the floodgates opened.  After several top Mafia officials in New York were convicted of various criminal offenses under the RICO Act in 1985, one FBI agent said the law was “the atomic bomb of organized crime and the darling of the Department of Justice” (Tuohy)3.

One of the first indictments obtained under RICO was handed down to ‘Lefty Guns’ Ruggiero and his organized crime related crewmembers. ‘Lefty’ was the mobster made famous in the mid-1990s when Al Pacino portrayed him in the movie Donnie Brasco. Other well known mobsters who were taken down by RICO, in a host of 1985 indictments include Genovese family head Anthony Salerno, Gambino family boss Paul Castellano, and Bonanno family chief Phillip Rastelli. 


What is RICO?

The RICO Act is a small piece of Title IX in the federal Omnibus Crime Control Act, which Congress enacted in 1970. The law sailed through both houses of Congress, which to many, proved how clear-cut the mission to corral the Mafia had become. The Senate approved the law by a 73 to 1 margin, while the House overwhelmingly passed an amended bill, too, by a 431 to 26 margin.

Lawmakers passed the law to “strengthen the legal tools in the evidence-gathering process, to establish new penal prohibitions and to provide enhanced sanctions and new remedies” in the fight against organized crime. Congress found that the ‘sanctions or remedies available’ under the current laws in 1970 were “unnecessarily limited in scope and impact” (Blakey)4.

Enter RICO. The main theory behind the law was to combat the influence of organized crime in interstate and foreign commerce, and to remove those activities from the legitimate business community. According to Blakey, the RICO author, the law covers “violence, the provision of illegal goods and services, corruption in labor or management relations, corruption in government and criminal fraud.” And Blakey bluntly states that those goals do not begin and end with “those whose names end in vowels,” a reference to the stereotype that Italians are the only people participating in illegal organized crime activities.  

When handling criminal violations, the law is designed to go after anyone connected with organized crime. It states: “It shall be unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering.”   By racketeering, the law is covering any act or threat involving serious offenses, such as murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery and bribery.

The word ‘pattern’ has become the lynchpin of the law; pattern is loosely defined in the courts, and can mean more than one crime to dozens of criminal activities. The definition of a pattern has been challenged in courts nationwide and debated by legal scholars.

Another key to the law is that it separates organizations from individuals. Before RICO, the only way for prosecutors to go after organized crime was to charge the individuals with individual crimes. RICO, however, “outlawed enterprises,” Gregory J. Wallance described those types of enterprises in a 1994 article in the American Bar Association Journal, as “any association of individuals that engaged in racketeering activities.” In other words, if prosecutors prove that an organized crime outfit committed murder and bribery, a person found to be associated or a member of that outfit can be convicted of RICO violations, even if he didn’t pull the trigger, even if he had nothing to do with the bribery, and even if he was otherwise obeying the law while the offenses were taking place. The RICO violation in that case would stem solely from being a member of the criminal organization. RICO convictions carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years (Wallance)5.

In general, when prosecutors are looking to prove someone committed RICO violations, they are looking for a pattern of racketeering activity. That essentially means the defendant has committed two or more crimes from a wide-ranging list of general criminal violations. The FBI lists 16 federal crimes and eight state crimes under the heading “predicate criminal acts which are chargeable under RICO.” On the federal side, those laws include embezzlement of union funds, sexual exploitation of children, alien smuggling, prostitution and sports bribery. State laws covered under RICO include murder, extortion, gambling, arson and robbery.

RICO violations, though, do not only arise when a criminal defendant is accused of crimes found on the RICO list, and that can be a source for some of the current confusion over the law’s true purpose. Jeffrey Grell, a nationally known civil and defense attorney specializing in RICO cases, said there are four additional ways someone can violate RICO: Grell spoke about the law in an article by John William Tuohy in Gambling Magazine:


(a)                    You can violate RICO by investing the proceeds of racketeering activity in an enterprise. These are usually money-laundering cases. For example a drug ring owns a legitimate car dealership, but in addition to selling cars the drug ring launders its cash through the car dealerships books.

(b)                   You can violate RICO by obtaining or maintaining control over an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. For example, a small business has borrowed money from a loan shark; the businessman cannot repay the loan, so the loan shark demands that the business be signed over to him or he will kill the businessman.

(c)                    You can violate RICO by participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. A stereotypical example of such a violation occurs when an outsider bribes the employees of a company to get favorable terms under a contract with the company.

(d)                   You can also violate RICO by conspiring to commit any of the substantive offenses described in [the first three] paragraphs. The examples provided are merely examples. There is an endless variety of conduct that may constitute a violation of RICO. The “term” enterprise also does not mean only businesses or corporations. It can mean just about any group of people.


Blakey, in speaking about the hassles of getting prosecutors and police to fully utilize the law, said the problem with just ‘going after’ an individual who is part of organized crime is that it starts a merry-go-round, where the person will get arrested, go to jail, and quickly be back on the street committing crimes again. “You’ve got to go after the organization,” Blakey said in the 1994 article by Wallance about the rise of RICO. “Individuals commit organized crime, but organizations make it possible. You’re in it to destroy a family.”

History of RICO 

Law enforcement has been fighting organized crime in one way or another for more than a hundred years, but the modern effort can be traced back to 1963, when mobster Joseph Valachi testified before a U.S. Senate investigating committee. “Valachi confirmed the existence of a secret organization known as La Cosa Nostra, a conspiratorial group known to, but only unofficially recognized by, the FBI since 1958,” James Calder wrote in a 2000 article in Criminal Justice Review. “Valachi said that La Cosa Nostra amounted to a ‘second government,’ a charge that grabbed the spotlight, thus allowing conservatives, liberals, and the general public to express shock and indignation.”

Even before the groundbreaking Valachi testimony, the government had been aware of certain organized crime activities. The Department of Justice created the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section for the criminal division in 1954 and “action picked up,” Calder wrote, when Robert Kennedy was named Attorney General in 1961. Kennedy openly challenged some of the people known to be leaders in organized crime activities, and along with his brother, President. John F. Kennedy, he helped several anti-gambling pieces of legislation pass through Congress. But, the work Robert Kennedy had begun was curtailed during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency because in 1965, Johnson signed an order canceling the use of all electronic surveillance equipment, except for instances when national security was at stake (Calder)6.

Several other factors brought organized crime, and specifically the Mafia, to the public’s attention by the end of the 1960s. The novel “The Godfather” was published in 1969, boosting the mythology and public lore about the Mafia. Assassinations were attempted on high-ranking mobsters Joe Columbo Sr. and Joey Gallo. Another high-level mobster, Carlo Gambino, was arrested for mob-related crimes. “By 1969, organized crime ranked as an important political and social issue warranting policy action by the Congress and the executive branch. Generalized concern took root in sustained congressional and executive interest in comprehensive legislation” (Calder)7.

Still, despite a growing awareness of organized crime, not much was being done in the way of proactive law enforcement to do anything about it. The General Accounting Office, in a report on the success of RICO, mentioned the pre-RICO years as an “awkward affair,” Blakey wrote in an article about the myths of RICO, published in 1990 in the St. Johns Law Review. “Before the act, the government’s efforts were necessarily piecemeal, attacking isolated segments of the organization as they engaged in single criminal acts. The leaders, when caught, were only penalized for what seemed to be unimportant crimes. The larger meaning of these crimes was lost because the big picture could not be presented in a single criminal prosecution.” The problem of figuring out how to take action against organized crime was so widespread, that one legal analyst compared the situation to putting out a forest fire with a garden hose (Calder)8.

A small, yet powerful, group of congressman should be credited with planting the first RICO seeds, Calder wrote. One in particular, Senator John McClellan, (D-Alabama) was determined to target La Cosa Nostra with the act, known in 1970 as the Omnibus Criminal Control Act (OCCA). “McClellan captured the essence of the problem when he wrote OCCA’s legislative history. Statistics reported to his committee on the low frequency of federal indictments against La Cosa Nostra members from 1960 to 1969 demonstrated an ‘intolerable level of immunity’ from prosecution, a situation that he wished to change” (Calder)9. 

          So in 1970, with the backing of lawmakers and President Nixon, many thought RICO would jump out of the gate and attack organized crime head on. Still, “for all the exuberance tied to the new OCCA, full and confident implementation was delayed by nearly ten years,” Calder reported. One reason for the delay, Calder wrote, was a “lack of comfort and skill in organizing and directing new types of investigative strategies and in mastering prosecutorial expertise.” That is somewhat typical in new policy experiments (Calder)10.

Specifically in regard to delays in implementing RICO, Calder offers two reasons: “First, former FBI investigators and U.S. attorneys have claimed that they were unprepared because they remained too comfortable with familiar approaches. They failed, according to this view, to take advantage of key provisions of the law, especially new discovery techniques that allowed them to reach conspiratorial enterprises more efficiently.” Calder cites several FBI initiated organized crime investigations that stalled in the early 1970s. One case, known as “Gold Bug,” involved alleged Brooklyn mobsters, but the FBI’s efforts failed there in part because of “a continued distrust of local police,” Calder wrote. Another case, an investigation into Tony Spilotro’s criminal operations in Las Vegas in 1972 and 1973 was put on hold because state prosecutors in Illinois opened a separate investigation into Spilotro’s alleged criminal activities. And the case against Anthony Accardo, who became the Chicago Mob boss in 1975 after Sam Giancana was killed, could have been aided by using RICO, FBI agents would later say, but nothing was ever put together. Accardo was never charged under the RICO statute, despite numerous organized crime-related arrests from 1975 until he died in 1992 (Calder)11.

And even when cases were brought from FBI field agents to the Department of Justice prosecutors for trial, there was another problem, Calder contended: “Because each agency operated under significant pressure to win every case pursued to a jury trial, it was necessary to pursue only cases that could survive legal challenges by prepared defense counsel.”

A second reason for the delay in a boom in RICO arrests stems from FBI investigative methods. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had remained distant from mob contacts and that strategy made sure many agents were out of touch with sophisticated mobsters and organized crime groups. Outdated investigative methods were being used to try to infiltrate simple gambling and low-level racketeering operation and the results were minor arrests, mostly of people with little connection to mainstream mob power.

Still, there was more to blame than a slow-moving FBI behind the molasses like pace of the first decade of RICO. American presidents and other top-ranking officials in the executive branch also played a role, some unwittingly, in thwarting RICO and another organized crime fighting efforts in the 1970s. In a 1994 book by law professor James Jacobs, which Calder quotes, the law professor said “the attitude, politics, priorities and polices of presidents and the attorneys general have surely had an impact on federal organized crime control initiatives.” He added that the three Presidents in office during the first decade of RICO – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter – had eight attorneys generals and that caused some disarray in the entire justice department.

The RICO statute, Blakey hoped, would counter the confusion. But in 1979, almost a decade after the act was passed, Blakey’s goal of wiping out organized crime was languishing, despite writing what he thought was the preeminent law on tackling the problem. In writing the law, Blakey thought he was giving law enforcement a gift – “previously unimagined possibilities for organized crime prosecution,” wrote Wallance. Instead, the law became a stack of paper gathering dust.

While the RICO act lingered on the sidelines of the fight against organized crime, Blakey looked for a way to show-off the virtues of the law to an unimpressed law enforcement community. In the late 1970s, Blakey, a law professor, traveled the law enforcement training circuit, going from courses at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to the U.S. attorney’s offices in New York City, according to Wallance, who is a private lawyer today. Wallance served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1979 to 1985 in New York City, assigned to an organized crime strike force for two of those years. Wallance said at Blakey’s stops, the RICO author was greeted with bored politeness or just simply ignored.

“In one appearance at the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, Blakey, a man of modest height, angelic countenance and receding hairline, launched into his standard lecture on [RICO,]” Wallance wrote. “Blakey had been invited to the office by the head of the Southern District’s Organized Crime Task Force to talk with senior staff about RICO. After 15 minutes, one of the ranking lawyers, a man of probity, conventional legal talent and Wall Street respectability, stood up, told Blakey that ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about…you’re wasting my time,’ and ended the meeting. These self-confident prosecutors dismissed Blakey as a crazy academic” (Wallance)12.

In 1979, Blakey changed his game plan. Instead of taking his traveling RICO show from office to office, he would have the agents and the prosecutors come to him. He opened a summer law enforcement-training seminar at Cornell Law School, with weekly seminars for FBI agents, assistant U.S. attorneys and state prosecutors. The idea was to isolate the troops in the war against organized crime, and make sure they understood how to use their greatest weapon. “To Blakey, the FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys were like oil and water, a form of natural enemy that had yet to realize they could not operate independently,” Wallance wrote. “As he later put it, he needed to find a way to make ‘salad dressing,’ and the Cornell Institute on Organized Crime was, among other things, designed to do that.”

The seminars were crash courses in organized crime fighting techniques, with RICO leading the way. According to Wallance, Blakey captured the imaginations of the attendees, when the RICO author spoke about his ultimate dream prosecution, one in which “the entire Mafia would be indicted as a racketeering enterprise on the theory that it was an association for the purpose of committing murder. Every member would be a defendant, since taking the oath was a vow to commit murder in furtherance of the enterprise’s activities.”

At the seminars, Blakey went over the basics of what constitutes a pattern on racketeering behavior. He also taught the classes about how to get wiretap warrants, and how to use information once a house, bar or organized crime hangout was targeted for the wiretaps. (In addition to writing the RICO Act, Blakey also wrote Title III of the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which authorized court-ordered electronic surveillance at the federal and sate levels).  Blakey even had the classes watch Little Caesar, the movie that motivated a young Blakey to devote his working life to fighting organized crime. At the end of each class, Blakey usually wrapped up by saying “I dream of an indictment of every boss” (Wallance)13. 

The seminars worked. FBI agents began to understand the powerful tool in front of them, and prosecutors began to see the path Blakey had constructed. The challenge now was to go use the RICO act on the streets, and go after Blakey’s original goal, bringing down organized crime. 


RICO Cases

          There have been hundreds of RICO arrests and convictions since Blakey completed his training seminar. The defendants range from small time, bit players in organized crime to the top levels of the Mafia. Russian mobsters, too, have been arrested and convicted under RICO, as well as gangsters from just about every other demographic category.

          One of the most well-known cases involving Russian mobsters was that of an organization run by Boris Goldberg, who was indicted under RICO in 1989 in federal court in New York City for heading a criminal enterprise, according to the book “Russian Mafia in America: Immigration, Culture and Crime,” by James O. Finckenauer and Elin J. Waring. The general charges against Goldberg included cocaine trafficking, attempting to commit murder, armed robbery, extortion, fraud and using weapons and explosives in the commission of unlawful activities. Specifically, according Finckenauer and Waring, the case against Goldberg included accusations that:

       As a result of meetings in April 1982, Goldberg and others conspired to murder a rival gangster.

       Goldberg crime group associates traveled across state lines to carry out an extortion of the owners of a seafood company. 

       The organization sold drugs, particularly cocaine, between 1982 and 1984.

       In 1983, the organization planned an assassination attempt on Evsei Agron, at the time a Soviet crime kingpin.

       Goldberg and other associates with the organization conspired to take property by force from Ira Hershey, an employee of the Zale Corp. The property was jewels and precious metals, and the force used was violence and fear of physical injury.

Another well-known RICO case involved the arrests and convictions of some of the most notorious and high-ranking members of the Mafia. The charges alleged that the New York Mafia Commission directed the relationship among the Mafia families that were active in New York, and they also authorized the 1979 murder of Carmine Galante, head of the Bonanno crime family. According to Tuohy, in the article in Gambling Magazine about RICO, the indictments, which were handed down in 1985, also alleged the commission was running a multi-million dollar extortion scheme later known as the ‘Concrete Club’ (Tuohy)14. 

The list of the defendants, all of whom were alleged to be high-ranking members of the Commission, made up a who’s’ who for the Mafia. The defendants included Genovese family head Anthony Salerno; Gambino family boss Paul Castellano; Bonanno family boss Phillp Rastelli; Lucchese family boss Anthony Corallo; Gambino underboss Aniello Dellacroce; Lucchese underboss Salvotore Santoro; and Ralph Scopo, a member of the Colombo family and the president of the Concrete Workers District Council.

          The case, which operated under the code name GENUS, was designed to build a case against the five New York families, using RICO as the main weapon. The case took about five years to come to fruition, and according to Tuohy, about 200 hundred federal agents were assigned to it. “Its big break came after a microphone placed inside the dashboard of Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo…picked [him] explaining a series of schemes run by New York’s five ruling Mafia families. In November 1986, the defendants were convicted of 17 racketeering acts and 20 related charges of extortion, labor payoffs and loan sharking. All of the defendants were sentenced to serve 100 years in prison with no possibility of parole (Tuohy)15.

          Another famous RICO arrest and conviction was also one of the first cases to be brought after Blakey’s 1979 RICO seminar at Cornell. The case was made over six years, off of the legwork of Joseph Pistone, an undercover FBI agent who would ultimately penetrate deeper into the Mafia then any agent has ever gone. Pistone, using the street name Donnie Brasco, had become an associate member of a Bonanno family crew. In 1981, the captain of that crew was ready to propose him to be a ‘made guy,’ which in Mafia lingo means informally being inducted into the organization. Being a ‘made guy’ comes with a heavy responsibility of having to earn money for the superiors in the family, but being a ‘made guy’ also carries a lot of weight in the world of the mob – he cannot be killed unless captains and other top officials agree in advance to kill the person. Having an FBI agent go undercover so successfully that he got close to being ‘made’ was unprecedented in the FBI, and most law enforcement experts agree it will likely never happen again. Wallance, the former U.S. prosecutor who worked on an organized crime task force, set up the drama of how federal prosecutors were brought into the Donnie Brasco loop in 1981: Richard Guay, a young prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, had been working on small pieces of several mob investigations, but feeling like he was getting nowhere. Guay was surprised when FBI agent Jerry Loar came to him one day in 1981 and asked for wiretap warrants – Guay had never worked on a wiretap warrant application, as had few other prosecutors, since the practice was not widely thought of has productive. In his article, Wallance recounted the conversation between FBI agent and prosecutor. 

          Better tell me what’s going on,” said Guay. Loar was plainly uncomfortable. Reflexively, he glanced around. “I got a guy. He’s in. I’m not going to tell you his name.”

          Guay had no idea what Loar was talking about. “What do you mean in?” There was more glancing around by Loar, who looked impatient. He lowered his voice even more. “He’s part of the mob.”


          Pistone had been putting pieces together for Loar since 1976. Posing originally as a small time jewel thief, he had grown close to several mobsters, such as Sonny Black and ‘Lefty Guns’ Ruggiero.  The information Pistone supplied to Loar was used to get wiretaps, and recorded information from those devices was used to gather more incriminating evidence. The culmination was a RICO charge against Black and Ruggiero and several other Bonnano crewmembers. All the defendants were convicted and Ruggiero was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Black was never tried. He disappeared before the trial. A year-and-a-half later his decomposed body was found near Staten Island; authorities believe he was killed for retribution for letting Pistone into the crew (Wallance)16.

          After the Ruggiero trial, dozens of agents and prosecutors began utilizing the RICO Act, which was exactly what Blakey had hoped for when he taught his RICO classes. “All of the famous mob prosecutions…[including] the case against Matthew ‘Matty the Horse’ Ianniello, United States v. Salerno, and the multiple prosecutions of John Gotti all can be traced to Blakey’s lectures in the summer of 1979,” Wallance wrote. “It was truly the beginning of the demise of the Mafia, which discovered that ideas shoot bullets.”



          The RICO Act is not just a criminal statute. It also covers civil law, and violators can be subject to having their assets taken away by the federal government. While on a criminal basis, the majority of RICO violators are connected to organized crime, on the civil side that is not always the case.  The act has been used to wage battles against the Catholic Church; to sue companies accused of running false advertisements; and spouses have been sued under the RICO Act for allegedly concealing the value of marital assets in divorce proceedings.  To some scholars and legal experts, the wide range of RICO is justified by its original intent; when Congress passed the law, it mandated that the law “be liberally constructed to effectuate its remedial purposes (Barry)17. To others, however, the extension of RICO has brought questions about the government becoming overzealous, and possibly abusing some defendant’s Constitutional rights.

          Other Constitutional questions have been raised by RICO. The ‘pattern requirement’ has been challenged for vagueness, and it is possible the definition can become more narrowly defined in the future. In a 1988 opinion in a non-RICO case, four Supreme Court Justices – Scalia, Kennedy, O’Connor and Chief Justice Rehnquist – hinted “that the pattern requirement…was unconstitutionally vague and would likely not survive a further vagueness challenge” (Van Houten, et. al)18. Another legal challenge raised by defendants convicted of RICO violations is double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime twice. That problem can arise when a defendant faces RICO charges after he is already convicted of pattern type activities, such as extortion and murder. Up until 1990, the consistent view of the courts had been that double jeopardy did not preclude a RICO prosecution. A non-related organized crime case in 1990 brought the case to the attention of the Supreme Court, which ruled that there could be some double jeopardy situations when using RICO, but the narrowness of the ruling has meant that it has had little effect on past or current cases (Van Houten, et. al)19.

          The RICO Act has survived those constitutional challenges, as well as questions about its widespread use. While infamous mobster John Gotti was sometimes affectionately referred to as “The Teflon Don” because of his ability to escape several government attempts to lock him up, I believe the real Teflon in the world of organized crime should be the RCIO Act. The anti-organized crime statute sat dormant for ten years, rarely being used for anything related to mob prosecutions. Then investigators and prosecutors fought over how to use it, and who gets to use it where. And finally, the RICO Act has survived several legal and constitutional challenges.






1.     Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal, 1986, 80; p.63.                                                

2.     Calder, James D. “RICO’s Troubled Transition: Organized Crime, Strategic Institutional Factors and Implementation Delay, 1971-1981.” Criminal Justice Review, 2000, 25; p. 31.

3.     Tuohy, John W. “A RICO Interview.” Gambling Magazine, May 2002, p. 3.

4.   Blakey, Robert. “Debunking RICO’s Myriad Myths.” St. John’s Law Review, 1991, 64; p. 703

5.   Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal, 1986, 80; p. 62.      

6.   Calder, James D. “RICO’s Troubled Transition: Organized Crime, Strategic Institutional Factors and Implementation Delay, 1971-1981.” Criminal Justice Review, 2000, 25; p. 36.

7.   Calder, James D. “RICO’s Troubled Transition: Organized Crime, Strategic Institutional Factors and Implementation Delay, 1971-1981.” Criminal Justice Review, 2000, 25; p. 32.

8.    Ibid, p. 38-39.

9.    Ibid, p. 40.

10.  Ibid, p.66-68.

11.  Ibid, p.69-70.

12.  Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal, 1986, 80; p. 63.                                                  

13.  Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal, 1986, 80; p 64-65.                                                

14.  Tuohy, John W. “A RICO Interview.” Gambling Magazine, May 2002, p. 9.

15.  Tuohy, John W. “A RICO Interview.” Gambling Magazine, May 2002, p. 9.

16.  Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal, 1986, 80; p. 65.                                                 

17.  Barry, J. P. “When Protestors Become ‘Racketeers.” St. John’s Law Review, 1991, 64; p. 904.

18.  Van Houten P., Murphy, R. T., and Johnson, R. “RICO.” American Criminal Law Review, 1993, 28; p. 670.

19.  Van Houten P., Murphy, R. T., and Johnson, R. “RICO.” American Criminal Law Review, 1993, 28; p. 671-673.











Barry, J. P. “When Protestors Become ‘Racketeers.” St. John’s Law Review 64; 899 to 916.

Blakey, Robert. “Debunking RICO’s Myriad Myths.” St. John’s Law Review 64; 701 to 724.

Calder, James D. “RICO’s Troubled Transition: Organized Crime, Strategic Institutional Factors and Implementation Delay, 1971-1981.” Criminal Justice Review 25; 31 to 76.

Finckenauer, James O. and Waring, Elin J. Russian Mafia in America. Immigration, Culture and Crime. (1998) Northeastern University Press, Boston, Mass.

Jones, Artie, Satory, John and Mace, Tyler. “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.” American Criminal Law Review 39; 613 to 631.

Karwath, B. A. “Has the Constituency of Continuity Plus Relationship Put an End to RICO’s Pattern of Confusion?” American Journal of Criminal Law 18; 201 to 249.

Tuohy, John William. “A RICO Interview.” Gambling Magazine, May 2002.

Van Houten, P., Murphy, R. T., and Johnson, R. “RICO.” American Criminal Law Review 28; 637 to 677.

Wallance, Gregory J. “Outgunning the Mob.” American Bar Association Journal 80; 60 to 65.