View Full Version : What is "racketeering" and why is it a distinct crime?

06-19-2003, 02:35 PM
Racketeering has always seemed like a really weird thing to charge someone with to me.

Dictionary.com give the definition of racketeering as:
rack∑et∑eer ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rk-tÓr)
A person who commits crimes such as extortion, loansharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities.

Aren't these all distinct crimes already. It sounds like they are just charging someone with "Um, real bad mafia type stuff and being a naughty, naughty person."

My question is why is racketeering a formal charge rather than a general description of behavior and why don't they just charge someone with the actual illegal activities engaged in rather than this vague description.

MC Master of Ceremonies
06-19-2003, 02:38 PM
Racteering is basically organised crime.

06-19-2003, 02:42 PM
Extortion is a crime. Bribery is a crime. Loansharking is a crime.

But it's a separate and distinct crime to participate in an enterprise that organizes these crimes. In other words, when you take part in a group that manages and perpetrates these types of crimes, you are commiting the separate crime of racketeering.

A single instance of extortion is not a federal crime. A single instance of bribery, assuming it's not of a federal offical or something along those lines, is not a federal crime. But the enterprise that manages and controls a pattern of such crimes IS a federal crime.

- Rick

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.