When people think about racketeering, they often consider the Mafia, or the mob, and crimes associated with those kinds of organized groups. However, the truth is that racketeering laws in New York allow for the penalization of any crime that is conducted in an organized way. In simple terms, racketeering involves a structured criminal organization involved in illegal activities throughout multiple countries and states. In most circumstances, the law attempts to stop racketeering in New York by cutting off the supply of money used to keep that group going.
A person can be accused of racketeering in New York if he or she uses any kind of organization or group to commit one crime, or a number of crimes. Many illegal activities can be converted into a “racket” or a scheme whereby a group of people profit from their victim in an ongoing organized venture.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act defines racketeering in New York as a federal crime, and the consequences for those convicted of this crime can include a variety of fines, the relinquishment of profits and property, and prison sentences.
Laws and Penalties
The penalties in place for punishing those convicted of racketeering often depend on the circumstances and the facts that surround the crime. For example, there are a number of aggravating factors that can increase the seriousness of a crime. If a racketeering group was involved in murder, for instance, chances are that they will be hit with much higher penalties than those who were simply involved in acts of petty theft. For all types of racketeering, punishments can include:
- Prison time
- The forfeiting of profits obtained through illegal activities
RICO also permits private citizens to sue for losses in money and property caused by an occasion of racketeering, and the damages awarded may be up to three times whatever the actual value of the loss was. A larger amount is allowed as part of the punishment for the overall crime.
In most circumstances, the maximum penalties that are provided for a case of racketeering will include a fine that ranges up to $25,000, and up to twenty years in prison. On top of that, the organization will be required to forfeit any and all business interests and money gained from criminal activity. What’s more, the same case can be re-tried in civil court where plaintiffs can sue the individuals for triple damages.
The New York laws regarding racketeering cover crimes including extortion, bribery, money laundering, gambling, arson, robbery, kidnapping, murder, obstruction of justice, and more. While general racketeering statutes allow for a maximum imprisonment of up to twenty years, a life sentence can be possible in situations where the underlying racketeering activities permit for a life sentence. Likewise, if the gains from racketeering cannot be located, the defendant may be asked to forfeit other properties to make up for damages.
Often, because the charges for racketeering are so financially crippling, they are regularly used to convince accused individuals to plead to lesser charges.
The nature of a defense that can be launched against an accusation of racketeering will generally depend on the crimes involved in that organization. Sometimes, lawyers may choose to use a defense that:
- Shows an insufficient amount of evidence – suggesting that the accuser does not have the evidence or proof to ascertain that the individual in question was involved in any racketeering activities.
- Proves factual innocence – If the lawyer can prove without a reasonable doubt, using evidence and witnesses, that the individual in question was not involved in the racketeering circumstances, then he or she cannot be convicted.
- Proves illegal police procedures – If the lawyer can prove that the defendant was charged through illegal means, then this can sometimes act as a defense.
- Shows a lack of knowledge – Finally, the defendant and the lawyer involved in a racketeering case may be able to show that the defendant had no knowledge of any illegal activities taking place.
Statute of Limitations
In New York, Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 3282 is used to indicate that no person can be prosecuted, arrested, and brought to trial or punished for a non-capital offense of racketeering unless information is given, or a trial if started within a period of five years. However, it’s important to remember that many of the criminal activities that can be involved in a racketeering organization may not be protected by this particular statute of limitations.
New York Racketeering Cases
- Racketeering kingpin pleads guilty to nine murders
- Eighteen people charged with racketeering
- Suspected members of Genovese crime family arrested for racketeering
- Judge delays sentencing of former FIFA VP who pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, money laundeering, and wire fraud
- 87 Bronx gang members arrested for racketeering conspiracy, narcotics distribution, firearms offenses, and more