Racketeering is commonly associated with organized crime, thanks in part to documentaries focusing on legendary gangsters. However, there are many scenarios where a defendant might face racketeering charges. A December 2021 press release issued by the Department of Justice announced a lengthy prison sentence for a Russian citizen convicted in a Michigan court of cybercrime-related racketeering charges.
Details of the case
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced the Russian national to 60 months in prison. The person was arrested for offering “bulletproof hosting services” to entities that distributed malware to attack individuals and financial institutions.
Per the DOJ’s press release, the man provided IPs, infrastructure and more to cybercriminals engaged in the malware scheme. The activities took place between 2009 and 2015 and involved millions of dollars in losses to victims.
The specific crime here was “conspiracy to engage in a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization.” The investigation involved law enforcement agencies in several countries.
Racketeering and white-collar crime
Nonviolent racketeering schemes could fall under the description of white-collar crimes. The nonviolent nature does not mean that law enforcement won’t take the offenses seriously nor that prosecutors won’t seek harsh penalties.
With racketeering charges, the prosecution must prove that a criminal enterprise exists, the defendant was part of the enterprise, two acts of racketeering are involved and other elements. If the prosecution cannot prove that an enterprise existed or that the defendant was connected to the enterprise, the charges may not have merit.
Sometimes, a person could be falsely implicated on racketeering charges. Perhaps someone in the enterprises lies about another individual’s involvement, a tactic possibly employed for a plea deal.
The defense could point to other facts. Law enforcement’s illegal procurement of evidence through the lack of proper search warrants could result in the dismissal of charges.