Enterprise Corruption

Contact Rochelle S. Berliner to discuss criminal charges for enterprise corruption in Queens County, New York, or the surrounding areas throughout New York City including Manhattan, The Bronx, and the Brooklyn.

Queens Enterprise Corruption Attorney

Rochelle Berliner is experienced in representing clients for complex white collar crimes such as enterprise corruption and related offenses for:

  • Offering a false instrument;
  • Scheme to defraud;
  • Insurance fraud;
  • Criminal possession of stolen property
  • Grand larceny; and
  • Money laundering.

Although Enterprise Corruption will not be the only charge listed in the indictment, it is almost always the most serious charge. Enterprise Corruption under Penal Law Section 420.20(1) is a class B felony that carries a mandatory minimum term of incarceration punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The even more serious version of the charge, Aggravated Enterprise Corruption, is a class A-1 felony under Penal Law 460.22.

Information on Enterprise Corruption Charges in New York

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Types of Enterprise Corruption Cases

Enterprise Corruption is divided into three subsections - (a), (b), or (c) under Section 460.20(1). Common elements of each subsection include:

  • a criminal enterprise exists;
  • the defendant has knowledge of the criminal enterprise and the nature of its activities; and
  • the defendant is employed by or associated with the criminal enterprise;
  • the defendant participates in a pattern of criminal activity by doing one of the following:
    • conducting or participating in affairs of a criminal enterprise under subsection (a);
    • acquiring or maintaining an interest in or control of a criminal enterprise under subsection (b); or
    • investing proceeds of a criminal enterprise under subsection (c).

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Enterprise Corruption under New York's P.L. § 460.20

For purposes of the Organized Crime Control Act (OCCA), a "criminal enterprise" is "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." Penal Law § 460.10[3].

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Policy Behind the Organized Crime Enterprise Corruption Statute

In People v. Besser, 96 N.Y.2d 136 (2001), the New York Court of Appeals explained the policy behind the statute for enterprise corruption as follows:
Penal Law § 460.20 was plainly intended to reach conduct that was not already subject to criminal prosecution (see, Bill Jacket, L 1985, ch 516). The emphasis of the legislation was not on the quantity or nature of the myriad, isolated criminal activities underlying the new offense—conduct adequately addressed elsewhere in the Penal Law.

Instead, it "focuse[d] upon criminal enterprises because their sophistication and organization make them more effective at their criminal purposes and because their structure and insulation protect their leadership from detection and prosecution." Penal Law § 460.00. Thus, the purpose of creating the separate crime was to address the particular and cumulative harm posed by persons who band together in complex criminal organizations.

Id. at 142. In many of these cases, the person accused of enterprise corruption is also charged with separate counts that make up the pattern criminal acts. The underlying pattern criminal acts involve a single act or transaction.

On the other hand, the charge of enterprise corruption involves the commission of a number of individual criminal acts all committed either personally or in concert with others by a person who is either employed by or associated with a criminal enterprise, and who acts with the intent to participate in or advance the affairs of that criminal enterprise.

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Criminal Enterprise vs. a Legitimate Enterprise

The standard jury instructions for the charge of criminal enterprise call for an explanation of the difference between a "legitimate enterprise: and a "criminal enterprise." The difference is explained as follows:

A LEGITIMATE ENTERPRISE is any entity of one or more persons, corporate or otherwise, public or private, that is engaged in business, commercial, professional, industrial, charitable, social, political or governmental activity. Thus a legitimate enterprise is any lawful and legally recognized entity such as a business, a governmental agency, a charity, or a labor union.

In contrast, a CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE is an entity that is not legitimate or lawful. Under our 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.

What that means is that 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.

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Definition of a Pattern of Criminal Activity

Penal Law §460.10(4) provides: "'Pattern of criminal activity' means conduct engaged in by persons charged in an enterprise corruption count constituting three or more criminal acts that:

  • were committed within ten years of the commencement of the criminal action;
  • are neither isolated incidents, nor so closely related and connected in point of time or circumstance of commission as to constitute a criminal offense or criminal transaction, as those terms are defined in section 40.10 of the criminal procedure law; and
  • are either:                                                            
    • related to one another through a common scheme or plan or
    • were committed, solicited, requested, importuned or intentionally aided by persons acting with the mental culpability required for the commission thereof and associated with or in the criminal enterprise."

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Aggravated Enterprise Corruption under § 460.22

The crime of Aggravated Enterprise Corruption was enacted as part of the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (often called the "NY SAFE Act"). Aggravated Enterprise Corruption is an A-1 felony that became effective on March 16, 2013.

It requires the same elements of Enterprise Corruption plus a showing of certain legal classifications of the criminal acts that make up the pattern of criminal activity. This requirement includes:

  • Two or more of the acts that constitute the defendant's pattern of criminal activity must be class A or class B felonies;
  • Plus one of the following must be proven in the alternative;
  • At least two acts are armed felonies as defined by CPL 1.20(41)(a)]; or
  • One act is an armed felony and one act is criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon as defined in Penal Law § 265.17(2); or
  • One act is a class B violent felony and two acts are for criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon as defined in Penal Law § 265.17(2).

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Queens Attorney for Criminal Enterprise

If you are charged with organizing or participating in a criminal enterprise, contact an experienced Queens criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. The Law Office represents clients throughout New York City including Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.

Rochelle S. Berliner is a compassionate, award-winning lawyer with nearly a quarter-century of legal experience. She can review your case when you call or submit an online form to take advantage of a free consultation.