Pattern

There are six factors that a court should consider in deciding whether a RICO pattern has been established.  Edmondson & Gallagher v. Alban Towers Tenants Ass’n, 48 F.3d 1260 (D.C. Cir. 1995.  These factors are: “the number of unlawful acts, the length of time over which the acts were committed, the similarity of the acts, the number of victims, the number of perpetrators, and the character of the unlawful activity.” The court in Edmondson acknowledged that in some cases “some factors will weigh so strongly in one direction as to be dispositive.” The court also indicated that if a plaintiff or the prosecution alleges only a single scheme, a single injury, and few victims it is “virtually impossible for plaintiffs to state a RICO claim.”  The Supreme Court has interpreted the pattern requirement to include two additional elements: relatedness and continuity. H. J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229 (U.S. 1989).  To prove a pattern of racketeering a plaintiff or prosecutor must show that the racketeering predicates are related and that they amount to or pose a threat of continued criminal activity. To be related, the criminal actions that form the pattern must have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission, or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics.  Continuity may be close-ended or open-ended.  A party alleging a RICO violation may demonstrate continuity over a closed period by proving a series of related predicates extending over a substantial period of time.  Plaintiff or the prosecution must identify and prove a pattern of racketeering activity, defined as two “predicate acts” of racketeering activity within a 10 year period. If there are only two (the minimum number) predicate acts, these acts must be within 10 years of each other. If there are more than two, however, the RICO Act does not require that they all fall within the same ten-year period. Rather, section 1961(5) requires only that the last predicate act occur within ten years of the commission of “a prior act.”


Inside Pattern