An officer with the New York Police Department has been indicted, along with two other men, on federal extortion charges for allegedly
threatening a restaurant owner in Queens and collecting “protection” money,federal prosecutors announced today.
Shortly after opening a restaurant in Queens, the unidentified victim was allegedly approached by Redinel Dervishaj, 37, and told he need to pay because had opened a business in “our neighbourhood,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Believing he was being targeted because he, like the defendants involved, was of Albanian descent, the restaurant owner approached NYPD officer Besnik Llakatura, 34, for help. He didn’t realise that the seven-year police officer was allegedly in on the scheme.
“These people, they run Astoria,” he told the victim, according to The New York Post.
From The U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Llakatura discouraged the restaurant owner from going to the police and sought to leverage his position to persuade the victim that he had no choice but to make the demanded payments. When the victim resisted, he was threatened with physical violence and chased at gunpoint down the street in Queens by Nikolla.
In a five-month period, prosecutors allege the three men — who they say took turns collecting monthly payments — pocketed $US24,000 from the restaurant owner, according to CBS Local.
“By creating a climate of fear, the defendants allegedly coerced an innocent restaurant owner into paying for so-called protective services,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos, in a statement. “The victim was further betrayed when seeking the assistance of Besnik Llakatura, an NYPD officer whose sinister intentions were shrouded by his badge of honour.”
Llakatura was suspended without pay upon his arrest and all three defendents were due to be arraigned Tuesday evening.
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