Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Racketeering Definition:

The interfering with trade or commerce by violence or threats.

Related Terms: Deliberate Ignorance, Fraud

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The United States Code at Title 18, Chapter 95, entitled "Racketeering" criminalizes the following conduct:

  • Interference with commerce by threats or violence;
  • Interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia;
  • Offer, acceptance, or solicitation to influence operations of employee benefit plan;
  • Illegal gambling businesses;
  • Laundering of monetary instruments;
  • Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity;
  • Use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; and
  • Prohibition of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.

In US v McGlone, Justice Welsh adopted these words:

"Racketeering is an organized conspiracy to commit the crimes of extortion or coercion, or attempts to commit extortion or coercion.... Racketeering, from the standpoint of extortion, is the obtaining of money or property from another, with his consent, induced by the wrongful use of force or fear.

"The fear which constitutes the legally necessary element in extortion is induced by oral or written threats to do an unlawful injury to the property of the threatened person by means of explosives, fire, or otherwise; and to kill, kidnap or injure him or a relative of his or some member of his family.

"Racketeering from the standpoint of coercion, usually takes on the form of compelling by use of similar threats to person or property a person to do or abstain from doing an act which such other person has the legal right to do or abstain from doing, such as joining a so-called protective association to protect his right to conduct a business or trade."

In the context of labor unions, may be referred to as labor racketeering. In a 1959 defamation case (Ingram), racketeering was referred to as conspiring to defeat internal revenue laws on gambling.


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