Not long ago, a California jury handed down a 3.4 million dollar verdict to 3 complainants in what has come to be known as the “Offendex” case. John Doe (name withheld in order to protect the privacy) was accused as someone who had used public information concerning sex offenders (CA Penal Code 290) to extort monies from them. What did the 3 victims pay for? They paid not to have their photographs, names, and other personal, identifying information published all over the web. These were people who had never actually had to register as a sex offender in any state. Now, it looks like Arizona, and perhaps several other states, will file federal cases against him and one other involved party before the year is out. Certain victims of sex offenders have expressed their relief at being able to breathe a bit easier because they do not have to encounter their offenders’ photographs, etc. online.
He stood accused of 2 things in both lawsuits: of violating R.I.C.O. (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law) and conspiracy (to extort money). When someone creates a ‘racket,’ in the legal sense, it means that they try to offer fake services in exchange for taking care of some issue that is nonexistent. In this case, he threatened to post personal information and photos and took money for the ‘service’ of never putting them up.
If convicted of a violation of R.I.C.O., an individual could spend up to 20 years in federal prison for each count. Additionally, the fines that he or she would pay could amount to at least double the amount of money that was illegally made. Finally, assets (property, cars, etc.) can be seized and forfeited to the U.S. Government, with little hope of ever having them returned, even if he or she is found to be not guilty.