What is Racketeering?

Under California law, racketeering is the illegal operation of a business or scheme (racket) for the purpose of making a profit.

Racketeering is a broad category that covers a number of crimes like bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, murder and even crimes against children. Racketeering is perpetrated by groups, which is closely associated the organized crime.

Some defendants have attempted to fight their charges by insisting that their gains were not related to criminal activities. You will need an experienced racketeering attorney and a good bail bonds company to help.

In layman’s terms, the Act also prevented organized crime bosses from attempting to claim the exemption for crimes. For instance, a “Capo” or Captain didn’t order a hit another part of town where his “cleaning business” is located. In instances like this, the captain can still be charged in associated with a RICO crime. So a person doesn’t have to actually pull the trigger, all they have to do is have knowledge of or assist. Anything of this nature can get you charged with a racketeering crime.

Many of the murders under RICO are done as a mean to gain control. There are times when organized crime members will run rackets to harass small businesses for payments or “tributes.” If the business fails to cooperate, their business could be damaged or destroyed and their lives placed in danger. The FBI can also make arrests in this situation because the criminal is illegally operating a scheme to strong-arm citizens for a profit.

State and federal laws were put in place to combat racketeering crimes. Federal prosecutors can file charges through the RICO (Racketeer Influenced Controlled organization Act). Organized crime enterprises that have profited from financial gain are punished severely under the Rico Act.

Labor racketeering has gone on for decades, according to the FBI. In the 1950s, the FBI spent a great deal of time investigating and prosecuting groups like La Cosa Nostra and the Mafia for ties with union groups. These individuals often colluded with unions as a bargaining chip to get what they wanted.

Many Mafia members would use strong-arm tactics such as bribery, assault, promises to settle disputes, illegal liquor, prostitution and even strong-arming, to get them to accept demands. A number of rackets use legitimate businesses to cover for their crimes. The Mafia’s goal in union racketeering was to have control over every aspect of unions — including the billions of dollars in pension plans. The Mafia could make a lot by skimming money.

Murders were rampant in the heyday of organized crime and racketeering. One of the most notorious mysteries surrounded the disappearance of Teamster Union Boss James “Jimmy” Hoffa. He disappeared in 1975 and his body was never found.

There are 2 statutes under the California Penal Code involving racketeering:

  • California Penal Code Section 186.2 (defining criminal profiteering activity)
  • California Penal Code Section 186.3 (allowing forfeiture of property or proceeds derived from criminal profiteering)

The penalties under law can be severe. Racketeering in regard to organized crime laws focuses on the profits attained while engaging in criminal activity. Under the laws of the state of California, forfeiture laws are used to seize all property. Certain property interest criteria must be met:

  • The property acquired must have an established pattern of received under criminal activity.
  • There must have been some type of exchange for property via illegal activity such as money laundering.

Individuals arrested under racketeering charges should understand that forfeiture does not prevent the investigation and arrest of other crimes. Prosecutors will still vigorously go after individuals, and if convicted, sentences can be anywhere from 5 to 25 years.

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