CELEBRITIES like R&B star R Kelly and rapper Tekashi69 have been found guilty of racketeering.
But what exactly is racketeering and how long is the minimum sentence for the offence? Here’s all you need to know…
What is racketeering?
The dictionary definition of racketeering is dishonest and fraudulent business dealings.
A racket is a planned or organised criminal act, usually in business, to extort money illegally.
Most commonly associated with gangs and criminal organisations such as the Mafia, the popular example is a “protection racket” promising to protect the target business from dangerous individuals in the neighbourhood.
Often in these cases the problem may be caused by those offering to solve it.
What is the minimum sentence for the offence?
In the Uk we do not have specific laws just for racketeering – but they do in the US.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law passed by Congress in 1970.
The legislation, signed by President Richard Nixon, explicitly aimed to combat organized crime across the United States.
It allows criminals to be hit with extended penalties and a civil cause of action for their roles in criminal organisation.
It specifically focuses on racketeering and targets kingpins by allowing them to be tried for crimes that they ordered or assisted in.
A defendant with no prior significant record would receive a minimum sentence of 30 to 37 months in prison.
What kind of crimes fall under racketeering?
Racketeering violations are regarded as “predicate offenses”, referring to a crime committed which is a component of a larger crime.
- Distribution of a controlled substance
- Mail fraud
- Money laundering
- Wire fraud
- Witness tampering
What constitutes breaking RICO laws?
To convict a defendant accused of violating RICO laws, the government must prove a number of things beyond reasonable doubt.
- That a criminal enterprise existed
- That the actions of the group affected interstate business
- That the defendant was associated with or employed by the organization
- That the accused was involved in a pattern of racketeering activity
- That the defendant was party to the operations conducted by the enterprise during at least two acts throughout the sequence of racketeering activity