The purpose of the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act was initially to eradicate U.S. organized crime. As such, the offenses included in the Act as racketeering activities can be quite broad, and racketeering can be a difficult concept for the average Kentucky layperson to understand.

For the government to secure a conviction for racketeering, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the charged individual engaged in at least two proscribed acts to establish a pattern of racketeering activity while under the employment of, or in association with, an enterprise that affected interstate commerce. That is a lot to process, but it is possible to break it down further and make it more understandable.

Interstate commerce

The common denominator in all racketeering cases is that the enterprise had to affect interstate commerce. According to Cornell University, interstate commerce involves selling or buying services or products across state lines or moving money or products across state borders.


The existence of an enterprise is also necessary to prove a charge of racketeering. According to the United States Department of Justice, the definition of an enterprise can include an individual or a legal entity such as an association, corporation or partnership. It can also include a group of individuals that is not a legal entity, yet the individuals involved have an established association with one another.

A pattern of racketeering activity

Racketeering is not an isolated incident. Rather, it is a pattern of behavior. At least two acts of racketeering activity performed within 10 years of one another are enough to establish a pattern of racketeering activity. Otherwise, if an individual were to commit only one of the acts included in the RICO Act, one could face prosecution for that offense, but racketeering charges would not apply.