Most people relate racketeering charges to organized crimes since law enforcement agencies mostly use them to take down mafias and gangs. However, it can also occur in legal businesses and among individuals in Colorado.
Racketeering is a white collar crime involving illegal activities for financial gain. This can include fraudulent practices like bribery, fraud, extortion, counterfeiting and embezzlement.
At the federal level, the RICO Act of 1970 gives law enforcement agencies the authority to prosecute individuals who have attempted or committed any predicated act. A predicate act refers to any unlawful activity considered part of a broader scheme of criminal activity.
On the state level, the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) makes it unlawful for any person associated with or employed by an enterprise to knowingly participate in or conduct any pattern of racketeering activity, directly or indirectly. It’s important to note the “pattern of racketeering activity” because it means that there must be at least two criminal acts within ten years for a prosecutor to bring charges.
Types of racketeering
Racketeering activities are often divided into two categories: Organized and Unorganized. In the former, a criminal enterprise operates as an organized group with members committing crimes together for mutual gain. These organizations can range from street gangs and drug cartels to sophisticated corporations engaged in fraud or other illicit activities.
Unorganized racketeering involves one individual or multiple persons acting alone, typically for their own personal financial gain. Examples include embezzlement, bribery, counterfeiting and extortion.
Potential penalties in Colorado
According to COCCA, racketeering is a class 2 felony punishable by a maximum of 24 years in prison, fines of up to $1,000,000, and a mandatory 5-year parole. At the federal level, the offender may face up to 20 years in incarceration and a $250,000 fine per count of the racketeering charge.
Both state and federal laws severely punish individuals who commit racketeering offenses. It’s important to understand the concept and its implications to protect yourself from any risk of prosecution.