Racketeering is commonly associated with organized crime and drug trafficking. The term actually refers to multiple offenses, or rackets, operating as crime rings of an illegal scheme or unlawful business generating a profit. Michigan, like many states, has its own laws modeled after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) that prohibits racketeering. Charges for racketeering typically encompass any conspiring, attempt, or conduct aimed at compelling another individual to commit a crime for financial gain.
Understanding the RICO Act
The federal RICO Act was originally established by the 91st Congress in 1970. The RICO Act federal law is designed to provide extensive criminal penalties and a civil cause of action against conduct attributable to a criminal organization. This law was established to strengthen the legal tools available in gathering evidence and connecting seemingly unrelated crimes to a pattern of behavior attributable to a particular organization or entity. The RICO Act was critical in proving how organized crime infiltrated the labor unions.
More on the RICO Act
The federal statutes of the RICO Act specifically prohibit anyone profiting, directly or indirectly, from racketeering activities from investing, acquiring or operating an enterprise engaged in interstate or foreign commerce. The RICO Act statutes also apply to the collection of unlawful debt, or gambling debt. Racketeering activity often involves white-collar crimes like bribery, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, wire fraud, witness tampering and counterfeiting. Violent crimes like arson ,homicide, kidnapping, robbery have also been associated with racketeering organizations like the mafia and drug cartels.
In RICO cases, these crimes are typically considered to be predicate offenses. A RICO violation requires a minimum of two predicate offenses within the same decade. The predicate crimes must be committed in connection to an illegal organization operating as a discrete entity. Criminal penalties include 20 to life in prison and fines up to $250,000 for individuals, $500,000 for organizations or double the gross gain or double the gross loss.