Movies like The Godfather or Scarface may be some people’s introduction to the crime of racketeering. The reason is that the crime of racketeering has traditionally been used as a weapon against crime groups such as the Mafia.
Racketeering is a criminal charge commonly used to punish criminal groups of individuals who commit, attempt to commit, or conspire to commit criminal activity that benefits the group. Some examples of those crimes include the following:
- Money laundering
- Illegal gambling
The crime of racketeering can be enforced through both federal and state law. The federal version of racketeering is pursued under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.
Minnesota Racketeering Attorney
Bribery convictions can affect you for the rest of your life. If you have been arrested for this crime, reach out to knowledgeable attorney James Blumberg at James Blumberg Law today to find out more about how he can help protect your rights and freedom.
To schedule a free consultation, call (952) 431-7758 as soon as possible. Mr. Blumberg accepts clients throughout Dakota County, including Apple Valley, Eagan, Lakeville, Burnsville, Rosemount, Farmington, Inver Grove Heights and West St. Paul.
- RICO Under Federal Law And Minnesota Law
- Penalties Under Federal And Minnesota Law
- What Are Defenses To Racketeering?
- Statute Of Limitations
- Additional Resources
First, it is important to know that RICO charges can be brought in both criminal and civil cases. Federal or state prosecutors can pursue criminal charges for RICO in a criminal case. The prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty of all the elements of the crime of racketeering, which includes:
- the existence of a criminal enterprise that affected commerce;
- the defendant was connected with the enterprise;
- the defendant engaged in racketeering activity; and
- the defendant participated in a pattern of racketeering by committing at least two criminal acts.
The most critical racketeering element to prove is a pattern of criminal activity because the prosecution must show that at least two acts of racketeering activity have been committed within the criminal organization.
Typically, in civil cases, plaintiffs seek money damages that are related to or arise out of the illegal activity of the criminal organization.
Second, as stated above, many states have created their own version of the federal RICO statute. For example, musical superstar Young Thug and his artist known as Gunna have been charged in a 56-count indictment for violating Georgia’s criminal racketeering laws. All 28 defendants, in this case, have been charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s RICO Act. Several individuals have been charged with racketeering crimes such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, carjacking, theft, witness intimidation, and drug dealing.
Likewise, Minnesota has created its own form of RICO, which essentially complements the federal RICO statute. Racketeering is considered a felony offense under Minnesota law. Under Minn. Stat. § 609.903, a person is guilty of racketeering if they participate in a pattern of criminal activity and:
- are employed by or associated with an enterprise and intentionally conduct or participate in its affairs;
- acquire or maintain an interest in or control of an enterprise or real property; or
- have received economic gain or knowingly invest in the proceeds gained from it.
Penalties under RICO can range from hefty fines to extended terms of imprisonment. Generally, if an individual is convicted of RICO, they can face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the proceeds of the offense. Additionally, if a person is found guilty under the RICO Act, they will be subject to asset forfeiture, including any money or property connected to the racketeering activity.
It is also important to note that a conviction under RICO can form the basis for a civil RICO case, which could result in a large sum of money owed by the defendant. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1964, a plaintiff who is successful in a RICO action is entitled to treble damages, which are damages that represent three times the amount of damages claimed.
Under Minn. Stat. § 609.04, an individual who is found to have violated the Minnesota RICO law may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $1,000,000, or both.
As an initial matter, in any criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of all the elements of the crime being charged. Therefore, the defendant cannot be found guilty if there is any doubt in the jury’s mind as to whether any of the elements have been committed.
Common defenses to federal racketeering charges include:
- Mistaken identity
- No pattern of criminal activity
- The acts are not criminal acts under racketeering
- Multiple defendants are not associated as a criminal enterprise
- The defendant lacked the mental state to engage in criminal activity
- The defendant did not conspire with the others to commit the crimes alleged
The statute of limitations under RICO is a surprisingly short period. Under RICO, the statute of limitations is five years. However, it is important to remember that there are many different types of criminal activities that occur in a racketeering case; it is commonly found that these activities are not protected by the statute of limitations listed in Title 18 of the U.S. Code.
The criminal statute of limitations in Minnesota can vary depending on the crime committed. Thus, because racketeering crimes typically involve many different kinds of offenses, no general statute of limitations is described, including chapter 609 of Minnesota’s RICO statute, and it will depend on the charges brought by the prosecution.
Minnesota Racketeering Laws – The Minnesota Racketeering laws website provides information regarding statutes, prohibited activities, and penalties. It explains the offenses, statutes of limitations, and types of defenses.
Minnesota Legislature – Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609 website provides a complete description of Minnesota’s RICO statute.
Cornell Law School – Cornell law school’s legal information institute provides definitions and notes regarding the federal racketeering laws under 18 U.S. Code § 1961.
Apple Valley Racketeering Lawyer | Dakota County, MN
If you have been charged with racketeering in Apple Valley, do not try to tackle these accusations alone. The stakes are simply too high and your reputation is on the line. It is best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney such as James Blumberg Law. Mr. Blumberg will evaluate every legal course of action you might have to fight these charges.
James Blumberg Law serves clients in Rice County, Steele County, Scott County, Sibley County, Dodge County, Olmsted County, and Carver County. To schedule your first initial consultation, call (952) 431-7758 today.