Attorney General Martha Coakley Announces Comprehensive Economic Crime Bill
Bill supported by broad coalition of legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement
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BOSTON -- Today, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and a coalition of legislators, District Attorneys, and law enforcement organizations, announced the filing of An Act to Combat Economic Crime, comprehensive economic crime legislation designed to give law enforcement the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute sophisticated criminal activities and enterprises in the 21st century. The bill, which is sponsored by a number of legislators, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General, specifically updates the law in three areas, including money laundering, enterprise crime, and wire interception.
"As our economy has struggled in recent years, we have seen criminals engage in more sophisticated, organized, and often large-scale schemes to steal money or otherwise profit from illegal conduct," said Attorney General Coakley. "Crimes such as money laundering and engaging in corrupt business enterprises are very difficult to prosecute at the state level because police and prosecutors simply do not have the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute such crimes. Particularly as we explore the possibility of expanded gaming in the Commonwealth, it is critical that we have the statutory structure in place to address the types of financial crimes and corruption that may be associated with legalized gaming."
The bill updates the law in three key areas:
- Money Laundering -- Money laundering, which entails concealing the source of illegally obtained money, has proven to be critical in the furtherance of large-scale, illegal enterprises such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking and other organized crime, and is particularly prevalent where casino gaming is legal. Among other measures, the bill makes it a crime to knowingly engage in a financial transaction derived from criminal activity with the intent to promote, carry on, or facilitate criminal activity. Under the proposed new law, the crime of money laundering would carry a maximum penalty of six years in State Prison, or up to eight years for a repeat offense. Money laundering is prohibited by federal law and in at least 28 other states.
- Enterprise Crime -- The legislation also focuses on traditional and non-traditional criminal enterprises and organizations, including so-called organized crime families and traditional street gangs, organized retail crime rings, identity theft rings, large-scale drug, gun and human trafficking groups. Many of these organizations have sophisticated structures and extensive supporting networks, allowing them to engage in such criminal activities as money laundering, illegal gaming, running drugs and firearms, credit card and identity theft, and other types of fraud. The bill will prohibit patterns of certain crimes committed by corrupt enterprises, allowing the ring leaders and major players, who control and direct the enterprise but often do not partake in the actual commission of the crime, to be deterred and held accountable. Specifically, the bill makes it a crime, through a pattern of criminal enterprise activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt, to knowingly:
- receive proceeds derived from such activity;
- use the proceeds to establish, operate, or acquire any enterprise;
- receive anything of value or acquire any interest in or control of any enterprise; or
- be employed by or associated with any enterprise to conduct or participate in the enterprise by engaging in a pattern of criminal enterprise activity or through the collection on an unlawful debt.
Under the proposed new law, such activity would carry a minimum penalty of five years in State Prison, and a maximum of 15 years. Currently, 32 states have enterprise crime statutes.
- Wire Interception -- Last updated in 1968, the Massachusetts wire interception statute has not been updated to address either the technological advancements in telecommunications, or the changes in the nature and structure of criminal enterprises over the past 40 years. This bill provides much-needed updates to the wire interception law, including adding a definition for "electronic communication," designating new crimes eligible for the use of a lawful interception, and extending the amount of time that a lawful interception can remain open from 15 to 30 days to account for the breadth and complexities of criminal investigations in the 21st century. The bill also allows lawful, court approved one-party consent monitoring and recording of conversations of certain crimes. At this time, 43 states have wire interception statutes, and 35 have one-party consent statutes.
This legislation was filed today, and is co-sponsored by:
Senator Steven Baddour (D-Methuen)
Senator Stephen Brewer (D-Barre)
Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford)
Senator James Timilty (D-Walpole)
Representative James Vallee (D-Franklin), House Majority Leader
Representative Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham)
Representative Katherine Clark (D-Melrose)
Representative Barry Finegold (D-Andover)
Representative John Keenan (D-Salem)
Representative Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham)
Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown)
Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett
Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz
Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone
Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel
Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter
Listen to the press conference audio from August 3, 2009:
- Crime Bill Press Conference Audio (mp3) file size 8MB
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