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SCOTUS ruling could impact future racketeering cases

The Supreme Court of the United States will rule on whether alleged international crimes fall under the purview of the RICO act.

When people in Colorado, and elsewhere, think of racketeering charges, organized crime syndicates typically come to mind. However, people who are involved with businesses and other organizations may also find themselves on the wrong side of such charges. This may be the result of alleged offenses that are committed in the same state, or across the country. Depending on the outcome of a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, international dealings may also factor into, or contribute to, racketeering charges.

What is racketeering?

In general, racketeering includes conducting illegal business in an organized manner, operating an illegal business or using a legitimate business to conduct illegal activities. Under federal law, there are a number of activities that may be considered racketeering activities. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, these include the following:

  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Mail or wire fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Obstruction of justice

Additionally, state offenses, such as murder, kidnapping and robbery may also qualify as racketeering activities. The U.S. Courts for the 9th Circuit points out that the authorities must prove that at least two racketeering activities occurred in order to prosecute people for this offense. Furthermore, they must show that the acts had a relationship that posed a threat of ongoing criminal activity and that the acts were interrelated by distinguishing characteristics.

SCOTUS to rule

A case that will be decided by the Supreme Court could have a significant impact on future racketeering cases. The New York Daily News reports that the court will determine if alleged crimes that are committed internationally should fall under the purview of the racketeering statute. Previously, a judge ruled that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO act, could not be applied to offenses committed in other countries.

The initial ruling, which will be considered by the Supreme Court, came out of a lawsuit brought against RJR Nabisco, a tobacco company, by a group of 26 European countries. In a civil lawsuit, it was alleged that the company, in connection with organized crime groups, controlled a money laundering scheme that spanned the globe. It was further alleged that some illicit money was laundered through financial institutions in New York.

Potential implications for future cases

The impact that this white collar crime case will have depends largely on which way the court rules. If it is determined that international crimes qualify, then people could be charged with racketeering even if they are not based out of the U.S. As such, authorities could use offenses that are allegedly committed in other countries to establish a pattern of criminal activity. They may also use such purported activities to prove that people are running, or are otherwise involved, with rackets.

Seeking legal guidance

Due to the severity of the charges, allegations of racketeering may have a significant impact on people in Colorado, and throughout the U.S. Being convicted of such offenses could lead to lengthy prison sentences, and may impact their future opportunities. Therefore, those facing such charges may consider obtaining legal representation. An attorney may explain their options, and help ensure their rights are upheld.