Racketeering charges cover many different crimes perpetrated by a group or company led by certain individuals. These crimes are taken very seriously by the federal government, with some of those convicted receiving life sentences in prison. Additionally, even organizations that operate legally can be accused of racketeering.
On the federal level, racketeering is punished using the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations (RICO) Act. According to The United States Department of Justice, RICO violations entail the following components. First, there must be a group in operation. While at the onset of the RICO act it was used to target organized crime families, charges can be levied at even legitimate businesses. Next, the person being charged must be established to be a member of this group or business. The person must have also participated in a pattern of racketeering activity, which is defined as two separate offenses within a ten-year period.
ThoughtCo. provides deeper insight into the type of crimes committed. One example is a legitimate business enterprise that participates in criminal activity. For instance, this can entail laundering money earned via illegal means, trafficking drugs, participating in credit card fraud, bribery, providing loans with unlawful terms, selling stolen goods, and embezzlement (also known as a misappropriation of funds).
Being charged under the RICO act can have serious consequences. Any property or assets obtained as a result of the enterprise may be seized by the government before the trial. Fines are also common; fines can be up to $250,000 or double the proceeds that were gained from criminal activity. Civil suits can also be brought against the defendant, resulting in even more cost. In terms of jail time, the accused may receive up to twenty years per charge, while life sentences are possible when other charges (like murder) are also a factor.