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Understanding racketeering charges and its penalties

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2022 | Blog, White Collar Crimes |

The crime of racketeering violates both federal and Michigan state laws. While the federal government originally created the term as a way to address illegal organized violent crime, racketeering now includes ongoing white-collar crimes as well.

Defining racketeering

Racketeering includes a broad range of criminal activities that involve intimidation, fraud or force in order to make a profit. These criminal activities must involve corrupt organizations that continually engage in unlawful activities.

You may face charges for racketeering if you take part in any of the following steps of racketeering:

  • Organization
  • Management
  • Direction

Examples of racketeering

The federal government designed racketeering to encompass a wide variety of crimes. The wide-reaching nature of racketeering charges makes it easier for the government to make charges against organized crime. To fall under racketeering, crimes must involve a criminal organization of some type. The illegal activities may be violent or white-collar crimes.

Examples of racketeering crimes include:

  • Bribery
  • Loan sharking
  • Money laundering
  • Drug trafficking
  • Gambling
  • Extortion
  • Securities fraud
  • Public corruption

RICO and Michigan law

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) was passed in 1970 and allowed for the prosecution of racketeering under federal law. RICO enacted the following guidelines for racketeering penalties:

  • Up to 20 years for each count
  • Life in prison if the racketeering accompanied other serious crimes
  • Fines amounting to twice the amount of profit made by the racketeering
  • Forfeiture of all assets gained through racketeering

Michigan Penal Code 750.159f and 750.159g include all of these penalties at the state level. It also allows for restitution to the victims.

Taking racketeering seriously

The charge of racketeering may not sound as serious as other criminal charges, especially when the charge relates to white-collar crimes. However, you face decades in prison and a felony record if you are convicted. Anyone facing racketeering charges should take them seriously.