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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 460.00
Legislative findings
§ 460.00 Legislative findings.

The legislature finds and determines as follows:

Organized crime in New York state involves highly sophisticated,
complex and widespread forms of criminal activity. The diversified
illegal conduct engaged in by organized crime, rooted in the illegal use
of force, fraud, and corruption, constitutes a major drain upon the
state's economy, costs citizens and businesses of the state billions of
dollars each year, and threatens the peace, security and general welfare
of the people of the state.

Organized crime continues to expand its corrosive influence in the
state through illegal enterprises engaged in such criminal endeavors as
the theft and fencing of property, the importation and distribution of
narcotics and other dangerous drugs, arson for profit, hijacking, labor
racketeering, loansharking, extortion and bribery, the illegal disposal
of hazardous wastes, syndicated gambling, trafficking in stolen
securities, insurance and investment frauds, and other forms of economic
and social exploitation.

The money and power derived by organized crime through its illegal
enterprises and endeavors is increasingly being used to infiltrate and
corrupt businesses, unions and other legitimate enterprises and to
corrupt our democratic processes. This infiltration takes several forms
with legitimate enterprises being employed as instrumentalities, injured
as victims, or taken as prizes. Through such infiltration the power of
an enterprise can be diverted to criminal ends, its resources looted, or
it can be taken over entirely, either on paper or de facto. Thus, for
purposes of making both criminal and civil remedies available to deal
with the corruption of such enterprises, the concept of criminal
enterprise should not be limited to traditional criminal syndicates or
crime families, and may include persons who join together in a criminal
enterprise, as defined by subdivision three of section 460.10 of this
article, for the purpose of corrupting such legitimate enterprises or
infiltrating and illicitly influencing industries.

One major cause of the continuing growth of organized criminal
activities within the state is the inadequacy and limited nature of
sanctions and remedies available to state and local law enforcement
officials to deal with this intricate and varied criminal conduct.
Existing penal law provisions are primarily concerned with the
commission of specific and limited criminal acts without regard to the
relationships of particular criminal acts or the illegal profits derived
therefrom, to legitimate or illicit enterprises operated or controlled
by organized crime. Further, traditional penal law provisions only
provide for the imposition of conventional criminal penalties, including
imprisonment, fines and probation, for entrenched organized crime
enterprises. Such penalties are not adequate to enable the state to
effectively fight organized crime. Instead, new penal prohibitions and
enhanced sanctions, and new civil and criminal remedies are necessary to
deal with the unlawful activities of persons and enterprises engaged in
organized crime. Comprehensive statutes enacted at the federal level
and in a number of other states with significant organized crime
problems, have provided law enforcement agencies with an effective tool
to fight organized crime. Such laws permit law enforcement authorities
(i) to charge and prove patterns of criminal activity and their
connection to ongoing enterprises, legitimate or illegal, that are
controlled or operated by organized crime, and (ii) to apply criminal
and civil penalties designed to prevent and eliminate organized crime's
involvement with such enterprises. The organized crime control act is a
statute of comparable purpose but tempered by reasonable limitations on
its applicability, and by due regard for the rights of innocent persons.
Because of its more rigorous definitions, this act will not apply to
some situations encompassed within comparable statutes in other
jurisdictions. This act is vital to the peace, security and general
welfare of the state.

In part because of its highly diverse nature, it is impossible to
precisely define what organized crime is. This article, however, does
attempt to define and criminalize what organized crime does. This
article focuses upon criminal enterprises because their sophistication
and organization make them more effective at their criminal purposes and
because their structure and insulation protect their leadership from
detection and prosecution.

At the same time, this article is not intended to be employed to
prosecute relatively minor or isolated acts of criminality which, while
related to an enterprise and arguably part of a pattern as defined in
this article, can be adequately and more fairly prosecuted as separate
offenses. Similarly, particular defendants may play so minor a role in a
criminal enterprise that their culpability would be unfairly distorted
by prosecution and punishment for participation in the enterprise.

The balance intended to be struck by this act cannot readily be
codified in the form of restrictive definitions or a categorical list of
exceptions. General, yet carefully drawn definitions of the terms
"pattern of criminal activity" and "criminal enterprise" have been
employed. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 5.00 of this
chapter these definitions should be given their plain meaning, and
should not be construed either liberally or strictly, but in the context
of the legislative purposes set forth in these findings. Within the
confines of these and other applicable definitions, discretion ought
still be exercised. Once the letter of the law is complied with,
including the essential showing that there is a pattern of conduct which
is criminal under existing statutes, the question whether to prosecute
under those statutes or for the pattern itself is essentially one of
fairness. The answer will depend on the particular situation, and is
best addressed by those institutions of government which have
traditionally exercised that function: the grand jury, the public
prosecutor, and an independent judiciary.