Pennsylvania Racketeering Laws
Federal and state racketeering laws make it a crime for a criminal organization or enterprise to receive income through such organization or enterprise’s “pattern of racketeering activity” or collection of unlawful debts. Like the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, which prohibits an array of activities relating to any such enterprise engaged in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, Pennsylvania’s Corrupt Organizations Act also criminalizes the infiltration and corruption of legitimate businesses by organized crime. The purpose of the statute is to “successfully resist and eliminate” such infiltration and corruption by providing “new remedies and procedures.”
Specific Offenses Prohibited Under this Law
- To use or invest, directly or indirectly, any part of income “derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity in which such person participated as a principal,” or the proceeds of such income, in the acquisition of any interest in, or the establishment or operation of, any enterprise.
- To acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in, or control of, any enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.
- To conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, where the person is employed by or associated with the enterprise.
- To conspire to violate any of the statute’s provisions.
Persons convicted of the corrupt organizations offense are guilty of a felony of the first degree. Such violations are deemed to continue “so long as the person who committed the violation continues to receive any benefit from the violation.” In Pennsylvania, felonies of the first degree are punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of up to 20 years. The court may also impose a fine which is the greater of up to $25,000 or any higher amount consisting of double the amount of the defendant’s gain from commission of the crime.
Importantly, a person so convicted may also be subject to civil remedies provided in the statute, which expressly vests Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas and the Commonwealth Court with jurisdiction to issue appropriate orders. Such orders include those requiring the defendant to “divest himself of any interest direct or indirect, in the enterprise”; imposing reasonable restrictions on the future activities or investments of the defendant; and orders “making due provision for the rights of innocent persons,” including by ordering the dissolution of the enterprise or prohibiting it from engaging in any business.