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Cop indicted in extortion plot against Queens restaurateur

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

A federal grand jury has indicted three people, including a New York City cop with a shady history, on charges of extorting money from a Queens restaurant owner, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Besnik Llakatura, 34, of Staten Island, Redinel Dervishaj, 37, of Queens, and Denis Nikolla, 33, of Brooklyn face extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion, and brandishing a firearm charges, authorities said. The indictment claims that Llakatura, Dervishaj, and Nikolla threatened and intimidated the owner of a new restaurant in Astoria into paying monthly "protection" money.

"The defendants told their victims they offered 'protection,' but in reality, they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community—their community—of Queens," U.S. Attorney Lynch said 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." Lynch is the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, which covers Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk.

The indictment claims that Dervishaj approached the restaurant owner and told him that "you have to pay us" because he had opened a place in "our neighborhood."

The restaurateur turned to his friend Llakatura, a cop in Staten Island's 120th Precinct, for help, the FBI said. The officer discouraged him from reporting the incident and advised him to pay up, authorities alleged in the indictment. That is because Llakatura was actually allegedly conspiring with Dervishaj and exploiting the fact that they were all of Albanian descent, the FBI said.

"Llakatura is alleged to have exploited his friendship and shared heritage in order to help the defendants extort a restaurateur," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.

Prosecutors alleged that Llakatura, Dervishaj, and Nikolla collected $24,000 in "protection" money from the restaurant owner in five months. Authorities have also accused Nikolla of chasing the restaurant owner down the street at gunpoint when the latter resisted making a payment.

The NYPD has suspended Llakatura without pay. He and four other cops are being sued in an unrelated case for allegedly beating a black motorist in 2010, according to the Daily News. Prosecutors have also said he is accused of stalking a mistress.

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