The Employers’ Association of Chicago coined the term “racketeering,” in Chicago in 1927. The purpose of the Association was to resist the unionization of employees in Chicago and assist companies in the de-unionization of currently established unions. A “racket” is a group of people or service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem that does not actually exist. Historically, Unions or mafia like organizations offered this service. The most useful example would be an organization offering to protect a business or service against harm to said business or service in exchange for a nominal weekly or monthly fee. The crux of such an enterprise is that the people offering to protect you are the same people that will harm you should you not pay the “protection” fee.
Today, gangs have mostly replaced unions and or the mafia in providing the services of a racket. In an effort to combat this course of conduct, federal and state legislators have enacted RICO laws. Rico stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law. 18 USC § 1961 defines Racketeering as, “any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical, which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.” Law enforcement officials are most interested in a pattern of activity in regards to the enforcement of RICO. Three or more incidents that are the same or similar in nature will create a presumption of RICO related activity. It is also important to note that racketeering, by its definition, requires two or more people acting in furtherance of an objective to be charged with such a crime. This means that two or more people must conspire in order to carry out the racketeering. Since conspiracy is a non-merging crime (i.e. it does not fall-away and become part of the committed crime) a person charged with racketeering will also be charged with conspiracy.
Under Illinois state law, a person found guilty of racketeering will be sentenced to imprisonment of a term not less than 7 years, but not more than 30 years. Additionally, the person found guilty will have to be restitution (i.e. any money or benefit received from a victim because of the racketeering activity) and/or a criminal fine up to $250,000.00. Recently in June 2103, a gang that goes by the name, “black souls” was brought up on racketeering charges. Prosecutors allege the gang protected an eleven million dollar a year drug enterprise with the use of violence, including seven murders. If you find yourself being investigated by the police for activities related to racketeering in Illinois, you should immediately contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney