“Racketeering” is a word that’s often used to apply to organized crime — like the mafia. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was originally intended to make it easier for prosecutors to target organized crime, particularly the mob bosses who directed the action of others.
So why are you being charged with racketeering? Prosecutors eventually discovered that they could effectively use RICO charges against a host of other types of criminal enterprises. All kinds of “organized” criminal activity, like drug trafficking, prostitution rings and weapons dealing can be charged under state or federal RICO statutes — which greatly enhance the penalties for any other criminal acts that the defendants may have committed.
Here are some examples of racketeering that stem from real-life cases:
- Improper dealings in the stock market, including insider trading, concealing the real owners of stock and other illegal acts
- Money laundering (hiding the illegal source of some funds through assorted means so that it can eventually be used openly and tax evasion
- Running a “protection” scheme for area businesses by extorting the owners to pay up or suffer devastating consequences
- Cyber attacks and extortion where a group’s data or computer system is held hostage until the hacker is paid their ransom demand
- Credit card fraud that involves the use of “skimmers” on gas pumps and ATMs.
Under the RICO statutes, it doesn’t matter if you’re a major player or just someone on the fringes of a criminal enterprise. Either way, you can be charged with racketeering.
If you’ve been charged with racketeering, you’re in serious trouble — so get legal assistance quickly. An experienced, aggressive defense is the best way to seek the best outcome in any criminal case.