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What is Racketeering?
Racketeering involves organizing, operating, or participating in a systematic scheme to engage in illegal activities as a regular means of conducting business. Historically linked to organized crime, racketeering can include a wide array of criminal activities such as illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, and many other unlawful practices. It’s not just a single criminal act, but typically a pattern of illegal activities carried out as part of an enterprise.
Racketeering Charges and Statutes
The primary law designed to combat racketeering at the federal level is:
- 18 U.S.C. § 1961-1968 (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act): Enacted in 1970, RICO provides for extended penalties and civil causes of action for acts performed as part of a criminal organization. The act allows leaders of an organization to be tried for crimes they ordered or assisted others in doing, bridging the gap for prosecuting higher-ups who might not commit hands-on crimes themselves.
Given the intricate nature of racketeering schemes and their potential involvement with organized crime, investigations can be extensive:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The FBI plays a leading role in tackling racketeering, especially its connections with organized crime.
- The Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section: This section focuses on prosecuting individuals involved in organized crime, which often intertwines with racketeering.
- U.S. Attorney’s Offices: Regional offices can get involved, particularly if racketeering activities have significant local impacts.
Sentencing for racketeering, especially under the RICO Act, can be severe, influenced by:
- Nature and Number of the Racketeering Activities: The variety and frequency of racketeering activities involved can influence the sentencing outcome.
- The Financial Impact of the Offense: Greater financial damages or gains from the racketeering activities can amplify sentencing.
- Role within the Organization: Leaders or kingpins might face steeper penalties compared to lower-level operatives.
- Impact on the Community: If the racketeering activities destabilized communities or resulted in violence, courts might mete out harsher punishments.
- Prior Criminal History: A history of involvement in similar offenses can elevate sentencing.
- Acceptance of Responsibility: Cooperation with authorities and genuine remorse might lead to reduced sentences.
Under RICO, those found guilty can face fines and up to 20 years in prison for each count of racketeering. If the racketeering activities resulted in death, the penalties can escalate to life imprisonment. The RICO Act also provides for the forfeiture of all ill-gotten gains derived from the racketeering activity. Given the gravity and complexity of racketeering and RICO charges, defendants are strongly advised to seek experienced legal representation.
Facing Racketeering charges can be an overwhelming experience.
Retaining the services of Wall Street Prison Consultants can provide valuable guidance on navigating the legal process and understanding the ramifications of going to trial versus taking a plea.
Their expertise can help you prepare for sentencing hearings, explore early release options or sentence reductions, and ensure that you are well-equipped to achieve the best possible outcome in your racketeering case.