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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.8-1  Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity (CORA) -- § 53-395 (c)

Revised to December, 2007 (modified June 13, 2008)

The defendant has been charged [in count __] with violating the Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity statute, also known as CORA.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

It is unlawful for any person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise to knowingly conduct or participate in, directly or indirectly, such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, or through the collection of an unlawful debt.

This section, in essence, makes it a crime to conduct or participate in an enterprise through a pattern of certain violations of law known as "racketeering activity."  In this case, the charged racketeering activity includes <identify each crime alleged to be an incident of racketeering activity>.

The word "racketeering" has certain implications in our society.  Use of that term in this statute and this courtroom, however, should not be regarded as having anything to do with your determination of whether the guilt of this defendant has been proved.  The term "racketeering" is used only by the legislature to describe certain violations of the law contained in the statute.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element 1 - Existence of an enterprise
The first element is that an enterprise existed.  An enterprise under the statute need not have a particular name, or for that matter, any name at all.  Nor must it be registered or licensed as an enterprise.  It does not have to be a commonly recognized legal entity, such as a corporation, a trade union, a partnership or the like.  An "enterprise," as defined in the CORA statute, means "any individual, sole proprietorship, corporation, business trust, union chartered under the laws of this state or [any] other legal entity, or any unchartered union, association or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity, and includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental, as well as other entities.  In determining whether any unchartered union, association or group of individuals exists, factors which may be considered as evidence of association include, but are not limited to: (1) A common name or identifying sign, symbols or colors and (2) rules of behavior for individual members."1

Thus, an enterprise may be a single individual or a group of people informally associated together for the common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct.  In addition to having a common purpose, this group of people must have a core of personnel who function as a continuing unit.  Furthermore, the enterprise must continue to exist in substantially similar form throughout the period charged.  This does not mean that the membership must remain exactly identical, but the enterprise must have a recognizable core that continues throughout the period charged.

The information alleges that the following enterprise existed: <describe the alleged enterprise>.

In the special verdict form that will be reviewed later, you will be asked to report whether or not the jury unanimously finds that this alleged enterprise has been proved to exist beyond a reasonable doubt.

[<Insert if appropriate:>  Although the state contends that this group of individuals was known as <insert alleged name of enterprise>, you need not determine that the individuals actually referred to themselves by that name in order to find that an enterprise existed.]

In summary, in order to determine that an enterprise existed, you must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was acting in (his/her) individual capacity or that there was, in fact, a group of people characterized by 1) a common purpose or purposes, 2) an ongoing formal or informal organization or structure, and 3) core personnel who functioned as a continuing unit within the time frame alleged in the information.

Element 2 - Association with the enterprise
The second element is that the defendant was associated with or was employed by the enterprise.

[<Insert if appropriate:>  When the enterprise is alleged to be the defendant acting as an individual, the association is self-evident.  In this case, the state contends that the defendant is the enterprise.]

[<Insert if appropriate:>  The state contends that the defendant was associated with an enterprise described as a group of individuals known as <insert alleged name of enterprise>.]

It is not required that the defendant have been associated with the enterprise for the entire time that the enterprise existed.  It is required, however, that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at some time during the period indicated in the information the defendant was associated with the enterprise.

The state must show that the defendant's association with the enterprise was knowing -- that is, made with the knowledge of the existence of the criminal enterprise through a general awareness of some of its purposes, activities and personnel.  If you find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was knowingly associated with the enterprise, then the second element is satisfied.

Element 3 - Pattern of racketeering activity
The third element is that the defendant wilfully engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity.  "Racketeering activity" means to commit, to attempt to commit, to conspire to commit, or to intentionally aid, solicit, coerce or intimidate another person to commit any crime which, at the time of its commission, was a felony chargeable by indictment or information under the provisions of the general statutes then applicable.  <Insert underlying crimes as appropriate.>2   

A "pattern of racketeering activity" means engaging in at least two incidents of racketeering activity that have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims or methods of commission or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics, including a nexus to the same enterprise, and are not isolated incidents, provided the latter or last of such incidents occurred after October 1, 1982, and within five years after a prior incident of racketeering activity.3

The incidents of racketeering activity charged are:  <Insert underlying crimes as necessary and take judicial notice that they are felonies.>

The elements of each of these alleged incidents will be covered in a few minutes.  You must be unanimous as to which incidents of racketeering activity have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt before you may find that the third element of CORA has been satisfied.  In other words, there must be at least two specific incidents of racketeering activity that all of you believe were committed by the defendant in order to convict the defendant under CORA.

Difference between "enterprise" and "pattern of racketeering"
An enterprise, as used in the statute, is not the same thing as the pattern of racketeering activity.  In order to convict, the state must prove both that there was an enterprise and that the enterprise's affairs were conducted through a pattern of racketeering activity.  The enterprise in this case is alleged to be (the defendant himself / a group of individuals who associated together for a common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct).  A pattern of racketeering activity, on the other hand, is a series of criminal acts.

The existence of the enterprise is proved by evidence of an ongoing organization, formal or informal, with a common purpose and by evidence that various core personnel of the group functioned as a continuing unit.

The pattern of racketeering activity, on the other hand, is proved by evidence of a minimum of two incidents of racketeering which the participant(s) in the enterprise committed.

The proof used to establish those separate elements may be the same or overlapping -- for example, if you find that an ongoing enterprise existed, the existence of this enterprise may help establish that the separate incidents of racketeering activity were part of a "pattern" of continuing criminal activity.  Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that proof of an enterprise does not necessarily establish proof of a pattern of racketeering activity, and vice versa.  The enterprise is a separate element which must be proved by the state.

Element 4 - Knowingly conducted or participated in enterprise through pattern of racketeering
The fourth element is that the defendant, by engaging in racketeering activities, knowingly conducted or participated in the enterprise.  A person acts "knowingly" with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

It is not enough that there be an enterprise and that the defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity.  More is required.  There must be a meaningful connection between the defendant's racketeering acts and the affairs of the enterprise.  The defendant must have conducted or participated in the enterprise by engaging in the pattern of racketeering activity.

It is not necessary, however, that the racketeering activity directly further the enterprise's activities.  It is enough that the defendant's activity was related to the enterprise's activities or that the defendant was enabled to commit the racketeering activity solely by virtue of (his/her) position in the enterprise.

Incidents of racketeering activity
I will now instruct you on the elements of the alleged incidents of racketeering activity charged in the information.  You may not convict the defendant unless you have found that (he/she) committed or conspired to commit at least two incidents of racketeering activity.

The information charges the defendant with <insert number> incidents of racketeering activity.  I will now instruct you on the law relating to each of the charged incidents.

Incident <insert number> of racketeering activity
The (first / next) alleged incident of racketeering activity reads as follows:  <Read incident of racketeering activity.>  

The state alleges that the defendant (committed / attempted to commit / conspired to commit / intentionally aided, solicited, coerced or intimidated another person to commit) <identify underlying crime and refer to instruction on that crime and then present the facts as presented by the state and the defendant>.4

If you find that the state has proved the elements of <identify underlying crime> beyond a reasonable doubt, then you will find this incident of racketeering activity proved.  If you do not find that the state has proved those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then you would find that the racketeering act of <identify underlying crime> has not been proved.

<Repeat for each charged incident of racketeering activity.>

Again, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in at least two incidents of racketeering activity that have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims or methods of commission or otherwise are interrelated by the distinguishing characteristics, including a nexus to the same enterprise, and are not isolated incidents, provided the latter or last of such incidents occurred after October 1, 1982, and within five years after a prior incident of racketeering activity.

Remember, you must agree unanimously on at least two specific incidents and you are going to be provided a special verdict form for that purpose.

Conclusion

If you find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the four elements of the crime of violating the CORA statute, including the finding beyond a reasonable doubt of two or more incidents of racketeering activity, then you shall find the defendant guilty of a crime under CORA.  If you find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty of a crime under CORA.
_______________________________________________________

1 General Statutes § 53-394 (c).

2 General Statutes § 53-394 (a) specifies the felonies that qualify as racketeering activities.

3 General Statutes § 53-394 (e).

4 If the underlying felony is an attempt crime, the court must instruct the jury on the definition of criminal attempt.  Small v. Commissioner of Correction, 286 Conn. 707, 727 (2008).  See Attempt -- § 53a-49 (a) (1), Instruction 3.2-1 and Attempt -- § 53a-49 (a) (2), Instruction 3.2-2.


Commentary

The information may charge the defendant with "racketeering acts" which encompass several incidents of racketeering activity.  In this case, the jury instruction should make clear the difference between "racketeering acts" as used in the information and each incident of racketeering activity as defined by statute.

 


 

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