of our economy, often pursuing its interests through such illegal activities as loan sharking, gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Protection rackets and other forms of racke- teering have become the methodology of organized crime as it has infiltrated many legiti- mate business operations. There is often an overlap between white-collar crime and orga- nized crime. Under its power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce, Congress enacted the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Title IX of the act is entitled “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” and is commonly referred to by the acronym RICO. The law prohibits infiltration of legitimate organizations by racketeers where foreign or interstate commerce is affected. In addition to increased criminal penalties, the new RICO statute provides for forfeiture of property used in criminal enterprises and permits the government to also bring civil actions against such enterprises. RICO makes it a crime for any person “who has received any income derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt . . . to use or invest [in] any enterprise which is engaged in interstate or foreign com- merce.” Second, it makes it unlawful for any such person to participate, directly or indi- rectly, in the conduct of the enterprise’s affairs through a “pattern of racketeering.” Third, it 128 PART 2 The Substance of the Law
makes it a crime for any person “employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racke- teering activity or collection of unlawful debt.” This latter subsection of the act making it unlawful to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering has be- come the most frequently relied upon provision by prosecutors. Finally, the act prohibits conspiracies to violate any of these proscriptions. V ICE C RIMES The common law of crimes developed based on the shared experiences of the English peo- ple. Customs were greatly influenced by the Bible and church doctrine. These concepts, in turn, became the foundation of pre-Revolutionary criminal law in America. Later, as leg- islative bodies began defining crimes, they took a more secular approach in the exercise of their police power, which is their authority to proscribe conduct that threatens the public health, safety, and morals. Today, there is considerable debate about whether the govern- ment should criminalize vices such as prostitution, obscenity, gambling, and illicit drugs. Certainly these prohibitions are among the most widely violated.
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