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Fla. Poised For RICO Crackdown With New Enforcement Tools

Florida white collar attorneys can expect an uptick in investigations brought under the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, now that the Florida Legislature has added statutory damages and other provisions that expand the attorney general's enforcement power under the law, experts say.

State lawmakers earlier this month passed H.B. 549, which makes key changes to the state's RICO bill, including the addition of statutory penalties of $100,000 for individuals and $1 million for companies targeted under the act. The bill passed both houses unanimously, and Gov. Rick Scott is expected to make it law.


But one place where the bill veers away from federal law is in the addition of a 120-day gag order on the issuance of a subpoena, according to Jed Dwyer of Greenberg Traurig LLP. Under the new version of the state RICO law, recipients of a subpoena are permitted to tell only their attorneys about the fact that they may be under investigation and are not allowed to speak to other potential targets of the investigation or additional advisers, such as accountants.

“I think the idea is you want to protect your investigation so they don't destroy evidence or flee,” Dwyer said. “Prior to this, you would have to apply to a judge and get a gag order, but now it's automatic.”

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