An NYPD officer and two people were arrested and charged with Hobbs Act extortion of $24,000, attempted Hobbs Act extortion and brandishing a firearm against a Astoria restaurant owner.
US Attorney Loretta Lynch, FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the charges against Queens resident Redinel Dervishaj, Brooklyn resident Denis Nikolla, and officer Besnik Llakatura, who was assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island.
“The defendants told their victims they offered ‘protection,’ but in reality, they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community-their community-of Queens,” Lynch said Tuesday.
The defendants allegedly demanded monthly payments from the Astoria restaurant owner in exchange for “protection,” shortly after the victim opened his restaurant, according to court papers. Dervishaj allegedly told the victim because he had opened a business in “our neighborhood,” as a result “you have to pay us.”
The defendants allegedly took turns collecting monthly payments from the Astoria restaurant owner over five months.
When the restaurant owner tried to go to Llakatura, the cop allegedly discouraged him from going to the police and tried to persuade him to make the payments.
When he resisted he was threatened with physical violence and chased at gunpoint by Nikolla.
“By creating a climate of fear, the defendants allegedly coerced an innocent restaurant owner into paying for so-called protective services,” Venizelos said. “The victim was further betrayed when seeking the assistance of Besnik Llakatura, an NYPD officer whose sinister intentions were shrouded by his badge of honor.”
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