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United States v. Elliott

Citation. 22 Ill.131 S. Ct. 483, 178 L. Ed. 2d 283 (2010) [2010 BL 240590]
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Defendants, Elliot and five other individuals (Defendants), were convicted of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law passed specifically to target the complex nature of organized crime.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

RICO prosecution only requires that there is evidence that conspirators each agreed to participate, directly or indirectly, in advancing the purposes of a criminal enterprise by committing two or more predicate crimes.


The Defendants were convicted of conspiring to violate RICO, arising out of an agreement to advance the purposes of a criminal enterprise engaged in theft, the sale of stolen property, drug trafficking and obstruction of justice. The Defendants appealed on the basis that the evidence at trial showed the existence of several different conspiracies and not a single common conspiracy.


Do conspiracy convictions in a RICO case require that each conspirator agreed to commit each of the substantive crimes contemplated in the conspiracy indictment?


For a conspiracy conviction to stand in a RICO prosecution, it only need be proven that defendant conspirators agreed to advance the purposes of a criminal enterprise by committing two or more predicate crimes. The Defendants need not each have conspired to commit each of the crimes occasioned by the criminal enterprise. Rather, to find a single conspiracy, there must only be evidence of an agreement on an overall objective. In this case, the evidence established that each defendant committed several acts of racketeering in furtherance of the criminal enterprise over a period of years, from which the inference of an agreement is unmistakable.

Only in the case of defendant Elliott is there insufficient evidence of an agreement to enter into an enterprise conspiracy. The evidence that Elliott received amphetamine capsules from a friend and became peripherally involved in a stolen meat deal is not enough to establish, even indirectly, agreement to participate in a criminal enterprise.


As is evident, the RICO statute allows the government to bring together in a single conspiracy prosecution a variety of criminal actors who would have been tried separately under the previous statutory approach for their separate criminal conspiracie

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