Modeled after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (or RICO) put into place in 1970, Colorado’s 2016 COCCA law continues to aid in the investigation and indictment of crime rings operating among us here in the state.
Last spring, the ringleader in a criminal racketeering enterprise was sentenced to 14 years for leading an enterprise that stole mail containing identifying information, personal checks, business checks, and victims’ identities.
The group used computers, programs, forgery devices, and other tools to generate the counterfeit and altered checks, and the defendants cashed phony checks at multiple financial institutions in the Denver area. They were also buying, selling, trading, and bartering stolen information in exchange for drugs – mostly meth and heroin. Collectively, the group reportedly stole more than $100,000 through ID theft, affecting more than 400 people and business entities.
Meanwhile the leader of a violent Denver drug ring was sentenced just this past September. He is to serve 40 years after pleading guilty to one count of violating COCCA, and to one count of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
Other violent crimes included in his charges were assault, kidnapping, sexual assault robbery, and intimidating a witness.
What kind of penalties might you be looking at if you are found guilty of a COCCA violation?
In this post, we’re going to break down the law itself, then detail specific consequences associated with violating the law.
Breaking Down the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA)
Colorado’s COCCA law targets organized crime. Essentially, organized crime functions as a business – its purpose is to make money. The difference between illegal enterprises and legitimate businesses is that organized crime engages in criminal acts to make money.
COCCA was enacted as a way to eradicate organized crime in this state by strengthening the state’s evidence-gathering process, establishing new penal prohibitions, and stiffening penalties for the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime.
Penalties for Convictions Under COCCA
Under the new statute, each crime may be charged as a Class 2 felony. However, upon conviction, perpetrators will be subject to the following monetary penalties:
- Perpetrators automatically forfeit to the state of Colorado any proceeds and all interest of those proceeds garnered through violations of COCCA.
- They also forfeit any interest in, security of, claim against, or property/contractual right to or influence over any enterprise established and operated in conjunction with violations of COCCA.
- Initially, a convicted violator of COCCA may be fined up to $25,000 per count.
- In addition, they may be sentenced to pay fines up to three times the gross value gained or three times the gross loss caused – whichever is greater – plus all court costs, costs of investigation and costs of prosecution that have been reasonably incurred.
Concerning length of incarceration, those facing COCCA convictions are likely to receive ranges that are double that of narcotics cases. Due to the nature of these cases – the element an enterprise working toward a common goal – they can be classified as conspiracy cases. Whereas simple Class 2 felonies carry 8- to 24-year sentences in prison, conspiracy cases can vary widely dependent upon factors such as whether a pattern of criminal activity has been discovered, the number of people involved, and the total value of theft(s).
They’re serious, and you need to put together a serious defense to get the best possible outcome for yourself.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.