Racketeering has accrued several different connotations over the past few decades. You may be familiar with its connection to Mob, Mafia, and gangster activity, extorting or otherwise illegally obtaining funds through organized crime. Nowadays, it refers to any sort of theft or illegal acquisition of money as it relates to business. Categorized as “white collar crime,” these illegal practices have long investigation periods, high-asset liabilities, and often involve a large number of high-ranking officials.
Racketeering is known to have a few different applications. In 1970 the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was passed by Congress as part of a move to crack down on organized crime. Specifically, the act serves to penalize enterprises that attempt to or commit bribery, embezzlement of federal funds, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, wire fraud, and financial institution fraud. In order to have a case, a pattern of racketeering activity must be established that cites at least two instances where any of the above actions were committed. Lack of this evidence is often used in Racketeering defense cases.
According to Florida’s RICO, Racketeering is considered a 1st-degree felony resulting in 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Instead of the fine, the judge may decide to have a defendant compensate any financial damages caused.
Given the high-profile nature of many racketeering cases, some of them tend to make headlines. You may already be familiar with some of these infamous Racketeering cases.
In 2016, Trump University received a class action suit for its misrepresentation, citing that the institution is neither a university nor does it deliver or directly involve Donald Trump, it’s founder. Ultimately, the case was settled for $25 million 20 days after Donald Trump won the presidential election without admission of wrongdoing.
In 2015, the International Federation of Association Football responsible for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups had 14 defendants involved in a RICO case for wire fraud, money laundering, and bribes collecting and totaling to millions of dollars. According to the case, the 24-year scheme to collect funds for personal gain may have affected the choice to have Qatar host the upcoming World Cup games.
In 1984 in Monroe County, the Key West Police Department has declared a criminal enterprise after a long investigation into the department’s protection of cocaine smugglers. Indicted under the federal RICO act, several officers including Police Chief Raymond Casamayor were found to receive bags of cocaine at the Chief’s office at City Hall.
It is important to take Racketeering charges seriously, as the penalties and fines can have serious and permanent consequences on your freedoms and livelihood. Contact Pinellas Criminal Law to speak with our team of experienced attorneys about your Racketeering case.