What is Racketeering?

What is Racketeering

There are various crimes involving racketeering, and many famous individuals in society are being charged with this crime. Racketeering can sometimes also be a complex charge that carries severe punishments and jail time. So in this article, we will answer the question what is racketeering, as well as go over some examples.

What is Racketeering? 

Racketeering is a type or class of crime in which well-organized groups of people consistently conduct illegal business activities for profit. One prominent example of this is the “protection racket,” where a gang or group offers protection for homeowners or businesses against vandals for a fee. Persons who refuse to pay may become vandalism targets by the gang. Hence the group creates the problem for which, in return, they’re selling a solution. Racketeering, however, is far broader than this example, and federal crimes have made mention of many other crimes that can fall under the definition.

Racketeering

Types of Racketeering

There are multiple types of racketeering, both at the state and federal levels, and the law outlines 35 offenses as constituting racketeering. Some of these offenses are:

  • Fraud and embezzlement operations
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder and murder-for-hire
  • Bribery
  • Police corruption
  • Cybercrimes
  • Drug trafficking
  • Seduction
  • Arms trafficking
  • Extortion
  • Prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation of children
  • Smuggling
  • Human trafficking
  • Witness tampering and intimidation
  • Illegal gambling or bookmaking

 

Types of Racketeering

Examples of Racketeering

In history, some famous cases have been prosecuted under the racketeering statute, and the targets of these racketeering statutes were organized crimes. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) was used to convict John Gotti of the Gambino crime family in 1992 and was sentenced to life in prison.
  • Joseph Massino, head of the Bonanno crime family, was charged in 2004 with several racketeering charges. 
  • In 2005 the department of justice prosecuted a couple of the members of the Chicago mob.
  • RICO was used to convict the Latin Kings; the Latin Kings are one of the most organized and most prominent gangs in the United States.  
  • The American rapper and songwriter Tekashi69 was arrested on racketeering charges in 2018.
  • Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin, and 53 other individuals were indicted under RICO and other criminal statutes for the college admissions scandal. 
  • R Kelly was convicted of racketeering for sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, and forced labor.

 

Examples of Racketeering

How To Avoid Being a Victim of Racketeering

Racketeering is a severe crime, and there can be ways someone can avoid falling victim to it. Here are a couple of ways you can do so:

  • If you recognize you’ve been a victim of a crime, contact the police right away.
  • If you’re about to leave town, always let someone know; a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • If you have plans on leaving the country, always call your bank to let them know.
  • When at home alone, always keep doors locked and avoid answering the door to strangers; unless you’re expecting someone.
  • Once you’re done with essential paper documents, don’t just throw them out into the bin; always shred them. 
  • Always keep an eye out on your credit reports, at least every year. 
  • Your billing statements are essential, do a constant checkup on them, and if you recognize anything suspicious, contact your financial institutions. 
  • Secure and change PINs and passwords regularly.
  • Take precautions before giving out your personal information to anyone. 

 

Why You Should Care About Racketeering

Anyone can be a victim of racketeering, knowing that this crime is extensive and everyone should care about it. There are multiple cases of racketeering recorded in times past and up to this day. Have you become a victim of this crime? You can help someone out by educating them about how you survived this crime, be a source of strength to someone going through this crime, or just contact or report to law officials if you witness any strange activities that involve racketeering. 

Why You Should Care About Racketeering

How does the law define Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) charges, and how are they different from other types of criminal offenses?

The RICO act is a group of federal laws passed by the United States congress in 1970 to deal with organized racketeering activity. The RICO law was put in place to deal with organizations or individuals that do systematic or long-term illegal activities. One of the benefits of RICO is that it increases criminal penalties and allows civil claims to be sought by the injured party against individuals, businesses, or groups for actions taken as part of a criminal organization. 

Individuals can be charged with racketeering under RICO statutes if within a time frame of 10 years as part of a criminal enterprise. Of the 35 crimes that form the RICO law, only eight are state crimes, and 27 are federal. In addition, the RICO act was initially legislated to prosecute the mafia and other organized crimes. Still, with time the definition of what constitutes this crime expanded to individuals, organizations, and activities such as political parties, street gangs, protest groups, terrorist organizations, bankers, and the list goes on. 

Both criminal and civil punishments exist for violations of RICO law. A convicted defendant can be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for each count of racketeering, fined up to $250,000. Additionally, the defendant forfeits all rights over the enterprise and any profits received from the racketeering activity.

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