Law: Showdown At Gucci

Gulch Designed as a Mob buster, RICO has become a powerful catchall

When Congress adopted an obscure antiracketeering law in 1970, it seemed to target a particular kind of criminal: the old-school gangster wearing a fedora and a bulging shoulder holster. Nowadays, however, when federal prosecutors trigger the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, their sights are often set on a very different sort of defendant: a wealthy professional in designer pinstripes and Gucci loafers. In the nearly 20 years of its existence, RICO has evolved beyond its Mob-busting origins to become a powerful legal weapon against the upper reaches of white-collar crime. And because of its broad civil provisions, the statute has...

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