"That's such a racket."
You may have heard this term used to refer to a financial scam, but do you know the actual definition of a "racket?" Legal experts say that racketeering is defined as the operation of illegal businesses by organized group. These may be organized crime rings, or they could simply be collectives of individuals who are looking to profit from an illegal business. No matter the nature of the racket, such violations are often subject to aggressive federal prosecution under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Here is what you need to know about that particular piece of legislation as it might pertain to your criminal case in North Carolina.
RICO legislation was passed in 1978 to aid prosecutors who were involved in fighting organized crime. Before that time, prosecutors were often unable to secure convictions in connection with rackets. The prosecutors could occasionally convict those involved in the lower echelons of the operation; however, the "masterminds" behind the businesses were difficult to pin down.
When RICO was enacted, it was intended to prosecute large crime rings such as the mob or mafia. However, this legislation has now extended to groups that were not initially targeted. Consider the fact that some RICO charges were brought against pro-life protesters who illegally blocked doors to abortion clinics. RICO has also allowed for the prosecution of religious officials within the Catholic Church, as they were accused of systematically sexually abusing children.
The days of using RICO to prosecute mob bosses who were stealing funds from labor unions may be long gone -- but that does not mean that this legislation is useless. Scores of federal charges have been brought using this act, and prosecutors are almost certain to develop new ways to apply its restrictions. Defendants deserve to be protected from this type of aggressive prosecution under such a wide-reaching piece of legislation.
Source: FindLaw, "Racketeering/RICO" Oct. 01, 2014