Cop Joined Violent Albanian Crew, Will Pay Piper

NYPD Officer Besnik Llakatura faces sentencing later this month for his role in an Albanian crime ring.
Former NYPD officer/Albanian thug Besnik Llakatura during his 2013 arrest.

The NYPD Officer who copped to a guilty plea last December over his involvement in an Albanian crime ring focused on shaking down a couple of Queens-based business owners faces sentencing later this month.

Besnik Llakatura would have faced life in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines limit his term to anywhere from 12 years and nine months to 14 years and three months. Brooklyn Federal Judge Eric Vitaliano is slated to pronounce the man's fate on Feb. 26. Since his December 2013 arrest on extortion and gun-brandishing charges, Llakatura, 36, has been suspended without pay.

"Through his participation in these extortion schemes, Besnik Llakatura turned his back on his badge and his community, choosing [to] break the laws he was sworn to uphold, rather than enforce them, and to thereafter extort members of the community he had sworn to protect," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

Restaurant Owner Opened in "Their" Neighborhood
Victims of the groups scams included the owner of an Astoria, Queens-based restaurant, as well as a club proprietor.

Speaking of which, where's the Mafia in all this? Are various ethnic groups now planting their flags wherever they want and doing whatever they want? Or are there some covert agreements in place? I started writing this story wondering if I'd stumble, eventually, upon a member of one of the fabled five. I didn't. Apparently this Albanian group, which likely has other crews operating here, is based in Albania. In other words it doesn't appear to be the latest iteration of the Rudaj outfit.

Also this crew operated where Sicilian members of the Bonanno family are known to have gathered in social clubs, as former Bonanno capo Dominic Cicale notes in Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (a short-format ebook written with yours truly; the "business manual," as Jerry Capeci incorrectly described it, is available now for $2.99).

The scheme commenced in 2013, when Llakatura's two associates, Albanian thugs Redinel Dervishaj and Denis Nikolla, visited a newly opened Astoria restaurant -- and not to taste the cuisine.

Rather, they told the owner to hand over $4,000 for daring to open his eatery in "their" neighborhood.

Now of course by the time the two hoods showed up, the restaurant owner had already befriended Llakatura, the cop.

So after the night of the threat, the businessman sought advice from his new pal who was, after all, one of New York's finest, only to be told  that one of the two thugs, Devishaj, would hurt him if he didn't pay up -- and that calling the police would only make the situation worse.

The business owner nevertheless wasn't so quick to hand over the cash. He first needed to be chased down the street by a gun-wielding Nikolla. From then on, the man paid, giving up to the trio around $24,000 in total over six months. 

Llakatura's role in the scam -- befriending and advising the marks to pay up -- was uncovered based on wiretapped evidence from Nikolla and Dervishaj's phones.

Redinel Dervishaj  (U.S. Marshals)

In the other scam, the one related to the social club (which may have been a nightclub, based on other references I found), Nikolla and Dervishaj demanded $1,000 a week from the owner. 

The club owner was threatened by Dervishaj who apparently thought he had something in common with The Godfather Part Two's Vito Corleone (played by Robert DeNiro). The Albanian hood told the proprietor to "ask around" about him. 

The club owner consulted his new blueblood friend, who told him that Dervishaj was a "bad guy," who "run[s] Astoria" and could hurt the club owner's family members in both the U.S. and Albania.

Still, the club owner didn't take the advice, and hid out, then fled the country.

Soon enough Llakatura broke his cover, according to prosecutors, by joining Nikolla and Dervishaj in beating then holding a gun on one of the club owner's friends, demanding to know the mark's whereabouts.

Llakatura has been a cop since 2006, and was also accused of placing a GPS device on the car of his mistress, whom he also stalked, as well as threatened -- he threatened her family as well, though that charge was dropped as per Llakatura's plea deal.

The ex-cop wasn't lying about Redinel Dervishaj being bad (he seems quite evil, actually). This hoodlum, who murdered a man on the evening of his engagement, is the brother of an international fugitive wanted for several homicides (one of which may have involved use of an anti-tank gun) as well as for helping found an Albanian-based organized crime ring.

In 2012,  Redinel Dervishaj fatally stabbed the groom-to-be outside a Staten Island restaurant, escaping the law's wrath with claims that the homicide stemmed from self-defense. Based on this man's background and alleged criminal acts, self-defense doesn't seem to be the case here. As for the So-called exoneration surveillance footage, the actual murder occurs off-screen.

Anthony Lacertosa was murdered. Here he is
with his then-fiancee Bridgette Schneider.

The Staten Island District Attorney's office dropped criminal charges against the Albanian after he killed Antonio Lacertosa on the very evening Lacertosa and others were celebrating his engagement.

Redinal Dervishaj, said to be "a reputed gangster," fled for Chicago. When he was arrested there, he claimed self defense, and surveillance video apparently backed his claim.

See video described as part one (it takes three minutes before something clearly pops off):

Unedited versions of the two videos are available here, and here -- some readers may consider them quite graphic.

Noted the gothamist:

Lacertosa, fiancee Bridgette Schneider, his brothers and their friends had been out celebrating the engagement on March 16; they ended up at España Restaurant for celebratory drinks around midnight. Two of the brothers were allegedly kicked out (possibly for drunkenness), and they retaliated by urinating on the side of the restaurant. A fight started with restaurant workers—manager Ridi Zeneli allegedly tried to shoot at them, but his gun's trigger jammed. A cop who saw surveillance video said, "The video was like a WWF Royal Rumble...People were being tossed on top of cars; it was crazy."

The Staten Island Advance noted of the video footage:

[Zeneli and Dervishaj, who were intending on closing the restaurant] approach the group, and within a few minutes the physical altercation begins, with one man shoving another—it's unclear from the video who those men are. Within seconds, the men are involved in a large fist fight. 
Dervishaj gets sent tumbling over the hood of a car parked in front of the restaurant. He quickly gets back onto his feet, hopping a bit before taking off. He runs into the alley of the restaurant. 
The camera in the alley shows Dervishaj stopping at the passenger side of the truck in which he arrived. But he is unable to open the door, so he keeps running, disappearing from the frame. 
Five men, including Lacertosa, follow in pursuit... Dervishaj and the men who followed him disappear from the video, and the stabbing happens out of the camera's view. 
Moments later, Lacertosa walks back into the alley. He opens his suit jacket and looks down at his torso, where he had been stabbed. He walks to the edge of the alley before he collapses. 
As Lacertosa falls to the ground and a few friends rush to help, Dervishaj and Zeneli re-enter the frame in the back of the alley—Dervishaj with a knife visible in his hand. A woman and two men approach them—one of the men identified by sources as the Port Authority police officer. 
Apparently Lacertosa's brother-in-law, Paul Como, is a Port Authority officer and is being investigated for his role in the incident. Also: "The video shows a large group of party-goers standing in front of the restaurant on the sidewalk, while a large white SUV limousine idles nearby. It appears that a man is urinating between two parked cars -- Reilly and law enforcement sources alike have identified that man as a Port Authority police officer."

Shot in 2007 Gunfight
Redinal Dervishaj was shot in 2007 during a gun battle after he and an associate stopped by a Ridgewood, Queens house to collect a debt "for the mob." Apparently, the mob referred to here actually was an organized crime ring formed by Dervishaj's brother Plaurenti, who remains an international fugitive.

His picture can be viewed on the FBI's wanted list, as well as Interpol for four murders and his alleged role in founding the Albanian gang.

His Interpol profile notes:

Believed to be in: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, Serbia, United States

Wanted for: Premeditated homicide, illegal manufacturing and keeping military weapons and ammunition, criminal organizations

Wanted by: Albania

Case details: DERVISHAJ is believed to have been a leading member of a former Albanian organized crime organization in Durres, Albania. In October 1998 DERVISHAJ, along with three accomplices, is accused of murdering a rival gang member and wounding two others. In continuous conflict with rival criminal organizations in Albania, DERVISHAJ and accomplices carried out a series of attacks, including one with an anti-tank weapon.

Plaurent Dervishaj, wanted Albanian "Godfather" 

DERVISHAJ speaks Albanian and English. He is considered armed, dangerous and violent.