“Racketeering,” as a general term, refers to any organized crime or criminal enterprise run as if it were a business. This evokes the idea of mob or mafia involvement, but “organized crime” does not necessarily involve any of these groups and could be performed by smaller groups. Labor racketeering, specifically, refers to illegal methods of exploiting or controlling a labor force or union with the goal of creating illegal profits. This can occur in many ways, any of which can result in serious state and federal criminal charges.
If you or a loved one was charged with labor racketeering in Atlantic City, talk to the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City labor racketeering defense lawyers protect the rights of the accused and help fight to get charges dropped, reduced, or dismissed in New Jersey. For a free consultation on your charges and for help with your case, contact our lawyers today at (609) 625-3006.
What is Labor Racketeering in New Jersey?
Racketeering, in general, refers to organized criminal operations. These operations typically either function as:
- A service for illegal conduct (e.g., by providing services involving kidnapping, murder, gambling, etc.),
- Fraudulent services (e.g., embezzlement, identify theft, credit card theft, etc.), or
- By solving a problem they created (e.g., “protection” or “insurance” rackets).
These offenses are referred to as “organized crime” simply because they usually involve the cooperation of more than one person to commit the crime, not because of any affiliation with known criminal organizations.
Labor racketeering refers to rackets that involve labor unions, employment organizations, or a workforce. The goals and methods may vary greatly from case to case, but most labor racketeering involves gaining profit by illegally affecting a company’s profits, competitiveness, prices, payments for supplies/materials, etc. The victims of labor racketeering may be the company, the workers, the public at large, or another party. Typically, the means used to perpetrate labor racketeering involve threats, exploitation, violence, and fraud.
Examples of labor racketeering may include:
- Embezzlement schemes,
- Benefit plan fraud,
- Fraudulent loans,
- Misuse of strikes,
- Strike insurance schemes,
- Payments for labor peace,
- Misappropriation of union dues,
- Charging for privileges to use non-union workers,
- Labor-management collusion,
- And more.
Labor Racketeering Laws and Crimes
Racketeering is punished by both New Jersey law and federal law.
New Jersey Racketeering Statutes
New Jersey law makes it a crime under N.J.S.A. § 2C:41-2 to receive any income from “racketeering activity.” This is aimed at racketeering in general, and it would include labor racketeering if that is the source of the income. Much of the language seems geared specifically at “loan sharking” and similar loans, but the statute also punishes those who are “employed by or associated with any enterprise” that commits racketeering offenses.
When the New Jersey legislature defined “racketeering activity” in § 2C:41-1, they defined it to include any racketeering activity broadly. This definition specifically lists murder, kidnapping, gambling, and such activities as part of racketeering activities, but it also lists theft and fraud, which apply more commonly to labor racketeering offenses. In addition, racketeering activity involves any activities defined in certain subsections of the federal definition of racketeering.
These offenses are primarily second degree crimes in New Jersey. That means they are punished by up to $150,000 in fines and 5-10 years in prison. There are also potential civil penalties, meaning you can face lawsuits from the government and others you harmed with your activities. You can also face criminal forfeiture proceedings and lose any profits. This crime is upgraded to a first degree crime if the underlying activity involves firearms.
Federal RICO Statute
The US government has its own racketeering statute, known as the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). This statute can be found in 18 U.S.C. § 1961 and the following sections.
This statute defines racketeering activities in its own terms, many of which expand the New Jersey definition by including:
- Specific forms of fraud,
- Interstate activities,
- Obstruction of justice,
- Economic espionage,
- Interference with commerce,
- Counterfeiting goods,
- And more.
The federal statute is very similar to the New Jersey statute and makes it illegal to receive income from racketeering. More specifically, it makes it illegal to do any of the following if it involves profits from racketeering activities:
- Receive income,
- Buy stocks/securities,
- Collect debt, or
- Affect interstate commerce.
It is also illegal to associate with an enterprise that profits from racketeering or to conspire to participate in a racketeering operation.
As a federal offense, this offense can yield a fine and up to 20 years in prison. This can be upgraded to life in prison if the racketeering activity is specifically punished by life in prison. This also has civil penalties and criminal forfeiture options which carry their own penalties and repercussions.
State and Federal RICO Defense Lawyer for Labor Racketeering in Atlantic City
If you or a loved one was charged with labor racketeering or any RICO offense, contact a criminal defense attorney today. The Atlantic City labor racketeering defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on new cases. To schedule a consultation on your labor racketeering charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.