BROOKLYN — A Staten Island police officer was among three charged with extorting a Queens restaurant owner.
Besnik Llakatura, 34, who is assigned to the 120th precinct, was charged with Redinel Dervishaj, 37, and Denis Nikolla, 33, for allegedly demanding monthly payments from the restaurant owner in exchange for "protection," according to the FBI.
"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 Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
“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."
The three allegedly targeted Albainan businesses owners in Astoria, and used their shared heritage along with violence, fear and intimidation to collect payments from owners, the FBI said.
The scheme began after the victim opened a restaurant in Astoria and was visited by Dervishaj. Dervishaj allegedly told him that he opened a business in their neighborhood and had to pay them, the FBI said.
When the victim went to his friend Llakatura he allegedly discouraged the owner to go to the police and tried to persuade him to make the payments.
The victim resisted, and was allegedly threatened with physical violence and chased down the street at gunpoint by Nikolla, the FBI said.
Over five months, the three allegedly took turns collecting money from the owner, netting $24,000.
Wiretaps on them collected evidence detailing their efforts to control businesses in the neighborhood through violence, fear and intimidation, the FBI said.
The three were charged for extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and brandishing a firearm at their arraignment in Brooklyn on Tuesday, the FBI said.
Llakatura, who has worked as an NYPD officer in Staten Island since 2006, has been suspended without pay.