Melanson Law Office P.C. May 26, 2013

As we watch scenes in these movies depicting ordinary citizens becoming entangled in organized crime cases, we wonder, “Could this really happen to an average citizen, or are these scenarios just figments of Hollywood’s imagination?”

The answer to that question is, “Yes, the average law-abiding citizen can become involved with organized crime and thus can be brought into an organized crime case.”

Organized crime does not generate money on its own; to become successful, a criminal organization depends on support from the society in which it exists, and therefore, it will attempt to compromise legitimate individuals, businesses and industries through bribery, blackmail and mutually dependent relationships.

The typical method of involving an average citizen in their criminal organization is to place him in a compromising position – typically catch him committing an illegal activity – and then use extortion or/and intimidation to force the citizen to begin performing illegal activities for the crime group.

One example of an individual becoming involved with organized crime is a small business owner who has a gambling problem. After placing many bets with his bookie, the business owner discovers he has lost a great deal of money, his debt is then turned into a loan, and eventually in the near future, he finds he can no longer pay off the loan.

At this point, the organized crime member behind the bookie comes forward with his demands. His demands could include the following: he wants to become an employee on the books so he can collect health insurance or show a legitimate income for tax purposes; or he may want to be listed as the owner of the business in order to apply for credit cards or loans for himself based on the financial status of the business. The crime figure has, of course, no intent of repaying these loans or credit card accounts, but will use the funds and goods for personal enrichment.

Although this small business owner was forced into illegal activity because of his gambling debt, unfortunately by allowing the organized crime member to knowingly commit fraudulent activities in his name, this average citizen will be held accountable by law enforcement authorities for his role in these crimes should they be discovered and charges be filed in this organized crime case.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia by Henri Brispot.