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(New York Daily News)   NYPD officer charged with extortion. If there were only some earlier warning signs, like him being a convicted burglar, stabbing a groom-to-be at wedding, and having a mass-murderer for a brother   (nydailynews.com) divider line 3
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3949 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Dec 2013 at 8:19 AM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-05 08:26:31 AM
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You know what? I'll go to the home page, search for the article and copy and paste it here.

¶ Shortly after opening a new restaurant in Astoria, Queens, this year, the owner received an unwelcome visitor, he said, who explained that it would cost him money to operate "in our neighborhood."
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¶ It was an unnerving demand, and that was before he knew who the man was, according to court papers. The man, Redinel Dervishaj, was the brother of one of Albania's most wanted fugitives, and had himself been the subject of a manhunt last year after a deadly brawl on Staten Island.

¶ Seeking help, the restaurant owner called a police officer whom he considered a friend. Instead of intervening, the officer, Besnik Llakatura, 34, persuaded the restaurant owner to start paying Mr. Dervishaj, according to the authorities. "These people run Astoria," Officer Llakatura told him, court papers said.

¶ What Officer Llakatura did not say was that he was a part of the extortion racket and was receiving a cut of the money, according to the authorities.

¶ "The victim was further betrayed when seeking the assistance of Besnik Llakatura, an N.Y.P.D. officer whose sinister intentions were shrouded by his badge of honor," said George Venizelos, the assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York field office.

¶ On Tuesday morning, Officer Llakatura was arrested at his home on Staten Island and charged with conspiracy and an attempt to commit extortion. Mr. Dervishaj and a third man, Denis Nikolla, were also charged.

¶ The three defendants are all immigrants from Albania; the restaurant owner, identified in court papers as John Doe, was singled out, the authorities said, because he too was of Albanian descent.

¶ Officer Llakatura appeared in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday with the other two defendants. All three men pleaded not guilty. The magistrate judge, Joan Azrack, ordered them detained but will later consider arguments for bail.

¶ Outside of the courtroom, Officer Llakatura's lawyer, Kevin Keating, questioned the charges. "There is something very odd about the allegations that make it facially unbelievable that a police officer would involve himself in such a scheme for the grand sum of $6,000," Mr. Keating said.

¶ Court papers filed by prosecutors suggest a story of brazen corruption: a police officer openly allied with violent organized-crime figures who preyed on a man in fear of his life.

¶ At one point, the restaurateur was chased by a man driving a black Dodge Charger who pointed a gun at him, according to prosecutors, and when the restaurateur next saw Officer Llakatura, the police officer said he was "lucky" to have gotten away.

¶ The officer explained that unless the restaurant owner began paying, his legs would probably be broken. "Make sure you don't call the cops, because if you call the cops, you're done," Officer Llakatura said, according to prosecutors. On one occasion while driving his patrol vehicle, the officer turned on his siren and pulled the restaurateur over, warning the man that Mr. Dervishaj was likely to "go after your family," according to prosecutors.

¶ The restaurateur eventually sought help from the detective squad in the 111th Precinct in Queens, a law enforcement official said. Because the case had an organized crime angle, it was handled by the Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes police detectives and F.B.I. agents.

¶ Between July and November, the restaurateur paid $24,000 in protection money, with Officer Llakatura receiving at least $6,000, according to prosecutors. Court papers indicate that the restaurateur was by then cooperating with the authorities, and that the F.B.I. was supplying the money.

¶ The investigation, which included wiretaps, also opened a window into the extortion racket that went after restaurant owners in the Albanian-American community.

¶ In court papers, prosecutors suggested that Officer Llakatura was squeezing other business owners as well. "Enough with counting money," read one of the text messages he sent to a different business owner, according to prosecutors. In a phone call with another victim, Officer Llakatura said, "You're going to give me the 2 percent or not?"

¶ In another intercepted call, investigators overhead a man lecturing one of the defendants, Mr. Nikolla, about how much money to demand from a new business. "You don't have to ask for a lot," the man said. "You have to ask for what is respectable," adding that $300 to $350 was an appropriate amount, and that with $350, "they pay it with a smile."

¶ The man told Mr. Nikolla, "You cannot ask for $500 or a $1,000 a week." That was too much, he explained, and "now you are hurting them."

¶ "The defendants told their victims they offered protection, but in reality they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community - their community," Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which includes Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, said in a statement.

¶ Ms. Lynch described Officer Llakatura as "a corrupt officer on the take."

¶ The investigation also turned up evidence that Officer Llakatura, who has been a police officer for at least seven years, had been stalking an ex-girlfriend, prosecutors said, and had installed a tracking device on her vehicle.

¶ It is not clear how Officer Llakatura knew Mr. Dervishaj or Mr. Nikolla.

¶ Mr. Dervishaj is a figure of some notoriety. He was shot while committing a burglary in Queens in 2007, and was sought in a manhunt last year after he was named a suspect in the fatal stabbing of a man at a Staten Island restaurant. Mr. Dervishaj was arrested a few days later in Chicago, and brought back to New York to face murder charges. But he was released after a grand jury declined to indict him.

Mr. Dervishaj seemed to take some satisfaction from his notoriety: When he first approached the Astoria restaurant owner, he advised the man to research his past if he "did not know who he was," according to court papers.¶
2013-12-05 12:25:12 PM
1 votes:
There's a whole police department I'd like to charge with extortion.

<CSB>
So last Sunday I'm driving through Alabama, headed home from visiting family for Thanksgiving.  I come to the small town of Elba, and the road goes into a downhill slope.  At the top of the hill, the speed limit is 55 coming out of a long stretch of rural highway.  At the bottom, it's 25.  And of course there are a couple of cop cars just waiting to pull over all the responsible drivers who prefer to coast down a hill rather than slam on the brakes.  Quite an effective little trap.  I got my first speeding ticket in at least 6 years, and I saw another car pulled over while my ticket was still being written.
</CSB>

I imagine that one weekend provides for a big chunk of their annual budget.
2013-12-05 08:21:46 AM
1 votes:
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