Enterprise Corruption

The Enterprise Corruption law is New York's answer to the Federal RICO Act. The Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act was passed in 1970. It was designed to combat organized crime in the United States. No single law was more effective in eviscerating criminal syndicates throughout the country. Under RICO, a person can be charged with racketeering if he has committed any two of thirty-five acts designated by law within a period of 10 years and if the acts were related to an "enterprise" in a way specified by law. In addition to the very harsh penalties associated with racketeering, members within the "enterprise" can be charged for the acts of others, and the victims of the racketeering acts can sue for treble damages.

Because RICO was so successful in prosecuting organized crime, many states passed their own laws mirroring the federal statute. In New York, that law is the Enterprise Corruption Law. Enterprise Corruption is codified in New York Penal Code Article 460. Article 460 states that in addition to Enterprise Corruption, a person may be convicted of Aggravated Enterprise Corruption if certain criteria is met.

The criminal elements that define Enterprise Corruption itself is codified in New York Penal Code 460.20. A person is guilty of Enterprise Corruption when he, having knowledge of the existence of a criminal enterprise and the nature of its activities, and being employed by or associated with such enterprise: (a) he intentionally conducts or participates in the affairs of an enterprise by participating in a pattern of criminal activity; or (b) he intentionally acquires or maintains any interest in or control of an enterprise by participating in a pattern of criminal activity; or (c) he participates in a pattern of criminal activity and knowingly invests any proceeds derived from that conduct, or any proceeds derived from the investment or use of those proceeds, in an enterprise.

The statute goes on to state that a person participates in a "pattern of criminal activity" when, with intent to participate in or advance the affairs of the criminal enterprise, he engages in conduct constituting three of the criminal acts included in the pattern, provided that: (a) two of the acts are felonies other than conspiracy; (b) two of the acts, one of which is a felony, occurred within five years of the commencement of the criminal actions; and (c) each of the acts occurred within three years of a prior act. A person can be liable for the criminal acts of another within this subsection if he intentionally solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or intentionally aids another and if he does so with the same degree of mental culpability of the other.

A "criminal enterprise" is an entity that is not legitimate or lawful. Under New York law, a criminal enterprise means a group of persons sharing a common purpose of engaging in criminal conduct, associated in an ascertainable structure distinct from a pattern of criminal activity, and with a continuity of existence, structure and criminal purpose beyond the scope of individual criminal incidents.

A criminal enterprise exists when two or more individuals, all sharing a common purpose of engaging in criminal conduct, come together and become associated in a group that has a defined structure, a continuing existence, and a criminal purpose that extends beyond the commission of individual criminal acts.

A person is guilty of Aggravated Enterprise Corruption, as defined by Penal Code Section 460.22, when he commits the crime of Enterprise Corruption, as it is defined above, and when two or more of the acts that constitute the "pattern of criminal activity" are class A or class B felonies and either (i) at least two of the acts are defined as "Armed Felonies" as that term is defined in the New York Criminal Procedure Law Section 1.20(41)(a); or (ii) at least one of the acts is defined as an "Armed Felony"and at least one of the acts is the Criminal Purchase of Disposal of a Firearm; or (iii) one act is a class B violent felony and two acts are Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Firearm.

Both Enterprise Corruption and Aggravated Enterprise Corruption are among the most serious laws in the Penal Code. The charges are almost always brought in conjunction with other serious charges. Aggravated Enterprise Corruption is an A-1 Felony. Enterprise Corruption is a B Felony. The maximum sentence for an A-1 Felony is life imprisonment. The maximum sentence for a B Felony is 25 years in prison.

John Buza is an experienced New York City criminal defense attorney. If you, or a loved one, is accused of Enterprise Corruption, do not hesitate to contact him immediately for a free consultation.