Racketeering, or when organized groups run illegal businesses, is a problem throughout the United States. These businesses, known as rackets, are essentially an organized crime ring. Public and private institutions are harmed by the rackets, because the rackets tend to embezzle funds through legitimate organizations.
This is such a serious offense that the federal and state governments have specific laws to prosecute those who participate in racketeering. If you're accused, it's vital that you take steps to protect yourself right away. It's possible to face false accusations, but don't take it for granted that you'll walk away without penalties even if you are innocent. Knowledge about the laws can help you be better prepared for what could happen next.
What are some common forms of racketeering that have occurred over the years?
Some forms of racketeering include using labor unions to steal from workers' pension plans or embezzling funds from legitimate fronts, like a not-for-profit organization.
How are those who participate in racketeering penalized?
Racketeering is penalized with the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO, which was enacted in 1978. This act allows prosecution based on two factors including:
- The defendant managed an organization or owned it
- The defendant's organization performed illegal activities regularly
How serious are RICO violations and the charges that follow?
RICO violations are extremely serious. You could face severe penalties and imprisonment for violating the laws. For a single RICO charge, an individual could face up to 20 years in prison, but up to life if predicate acts would permit it. The fine can be $250,000 or twice the amount of the proceeds of the offense, whichever is higher.
What should you do if you're accused of RICO violations?
You should make sure you do everything you can to fight the claims against you immediately. These charges are at the federal level, which means they're more significant and result in felonies with long prison sentences and heavy fines. It's worth your time to do what you can to protect sensitive documents and information about yourself, so you're not accused of a crime you did not commit.
It's possible for a person to work for an organization legitimately without knowing the illegal activities are going on. Those individuals are presumed innocent until there is evidence against them, but it's still in their best interests to make sure they have a strong defense against any possible allegations of their involvement.