NYPD Officer Arrested in Staten Island on Extortion Charges (Dec. 3)

NEW YORK (WABC) — An NYPD officer was arrested Tuesday on charges of helping two other men exort a restaurant owner in Astoria, Queens.

34 year old officer Besnik Llakatura was taken into custody at his Staten Island home.

He was charged with extortion and brandishing a firearm in relation to extortion.

33 year old Denis Nikolla of Brooklyn and 37 year old Redniel Dervishaj of Queens will also appear in federal court.

Prosecutors say the scheme began shortly after the victim opened a restaurant in Astoria when he was visited by Dervishaj and told that he had opened a business in “our neighborhood” and, as a result, “you have to pay us.”

The restaurant owner, who understood that he was targeted because he, like the defendants, is of Albanian descent, sought help from his friend Llakatura.

Unbeknownst to him, Llakatura was conspiring with Dervishaj in the extortion, and he told the business owner to pay, according to the indictment.

“The defendants told their victims they offered “protection,” but in reality they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community, their community, of Queens,” said United States Attorney Loretta Lynch. “When one victim turned to law enforcement for help, he was betrayed again by a corrupt officer on the take, who turned his back on his badge, his oath and his friend in exchange for extortion money in his pocket.”

Both Nikolla and Dervishaj have prior arrests, Nikolla for promoting prostitution, and Dervishaj for burglary.

Federal authorities are also looking into whether Dervishaj was in the country illegally.

Dervishaj was accused in February in the fatal stabbing of Antonio Lacertosa, a groom-to-be, during his Staten Island engagement party.

A grand jury later determined that Dervishaj was acting in self defense.

The name Dervishaj should sound familiar, since he was in an April 2012 blog when he was let off after killing fellow Albanian Antonio Lacertosa, the finding being that it was in self-defense. Ah, but it’s not enough to have narrowly escaped murder and burglary charges. Dervishaj just can’t give up the good life of crime. Then again, he’s got a gang leader brother to live up to. According to NY Daily News, “Dervishaj even boasted about Lacertosa’s death, warning the restaurant owner to ‘look him up’ on the Internet if he didn’t know who he was, court papers state.”

Since we’re on the subject of NYPD, I’ve been meaning to point something out for over a year. While it wouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the NYPD is monitoring Egyptians and Syrians, one wonders why-oh-why would it be monitoring Albanians:

NYPD kept Muslim businesses under surveillance, documents show (NY Daily News, March 9, 2012)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department collected information on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained secret documents…

The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers — and even the FBI — for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.

In late 2007…plainclothes officers in the department’s secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region’s Syrian population. Police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops. The resulting document listed no threat. And though most people of Syrian heritage living in the area were Jewish, Jews were excluded from the monitoring.

“This report will focus on the smaller Muslim community,” the report said.

Similarly, police excluded the city’s sizable Coptic Christian population when photographing, monitoring and eavesdropping on Egyptian businesses in 2007, according to the police files.

“This report does not represent the Coptic Egyptian community and is merely an insight into the Muslim Egyptian community of New York City,” the NYPD wrote.

The AP has posted the documents at hhtp://apnew.ws/ABtsAH and http://apne.ws/A1s5BQ and http://apne.ws/xUlmEQ .

If police, for example, ever received a tip that an Egyptian terrorist was plotting an attack, investigators looking for him would have the entire community already on file. They would know where he was likely to pray, who might rent him a cheap room, where he’d find a convenient Internet cafe and where he probably would buy his groceries.

As a result, many people were put into police files, not for criminal activities but because they were part of daily life in their neighborhoods. Shopkeepers were named in police files, their ethnicities listed. Muslim college students who attended a rafting trip or discussed upcoming religious lectures on campus were cataloged. Worshippers arriving at mosques were photographed and had their license plate numbers collected by police.

[A]fter Moroccans were involved in terrorist attacks overseas, the NYPD photographed and eavesdropped in New York businesses where Moroccans might work, shop and eat.

The AP has since obtained documents outlining NYPD efforts to monitor Albanians, Egyptians and Syrians. Each report focused specifically on ethnicity.

In the case of the Egyptians and Syrians, the reports explicitly focused on Muslims. The Albanian report mentions Albania’s diverse religious composition but police only photographed and mapped mosques for the report. There was no indication that criminal leads prompted any of the reports. […]

What, no priority given to spying on Orthodox Christian communities? At least some elements of law enforcement still get it, if the foreign policy establishment does not. (Indeed, for the latter, all three — Egypt, Syria and Albania/Kosovo — were pet projects.)

Also related is this May 2011 item: Europol: Albanian crime the most dangerous in Europe

Separately, countries where young women live in fear and whose Islam they are fleeing include — what? — Albania and Kosovo.