New York City Police Officer Gets 14 Years for Role as Gangster’s Enforcer

Besnik Llakatura

A few years ago, when Redinel Dervishaj, a violent Albanian gangster, was running protection rackets in Astoria, Queens, he had a secret weapon in his arsenal: a New York City police officer who occasionally worked as his enforcer.

In 2013, for instance, after the owner of a social club in the neighborhood had failed to make a payment, the officer, Besnik Llakatura, held a gun to his head as Mr. Dervishaj repeatedly punched him in the face, prosecutors said.

That same year, while helping Mr. Dervishaj shake down the proprietor of a seafood restaurant, Mr. Llakatura told the man that if he refused to pay what he owed his legs might end up broken.

“Make sure you don’t call the cops,” prosecutors quoted Mr. Llakatura saying, “because if you call the cops, you’re done.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Llakatura, 38, was sentenced to 14 years and 3 months in prison.

“The defendant’s crimes — committed by a man entrusted with a badge, a gun and a solemn duty to protect and serve the community — are nothing short of shocking,” prosecutors wrote.

The sentencing, in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, brought an end to the brief but brutal reign of terror that Mr. Dervishaj and his henchmen — who, like Mr. Llakatura, were largely Albanian immigrants — inflicted on Astoria’s residents and businesses. Mr. Llakatura was originally charged in the case in 2013 and pleaded guilty in December 2015. Last March, following a two-week federal trial, Mr. Dervishaj was sentenced to 57 years in prison. A few months later, another member of his crew, Denis Nikolla, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Mr. Dervishaj was a notorious criminal known for wreaking havoc in and around New York City’s Albanian community. In 2007, he was shot while demanding $20,000 from a contractor in Queens, the authorities said. Five years later, he was accused of stabbing a man to death with a butcher knife at a bachelor party on Staten Island, though a grand jury declined to charge him in that case.

According to his lawyers, Mr. Llakatura, who was fired from the police force after he entered his guilty plea, “made a big mistake” by teaming up with Mr. Dervishaj, a gangland figure whose brother, Plaurent Dervishaj, is an international fugitive wanted by Interpol and by American authorities. “He involved himself with the wrong people,” Mr. Llakatura’s lawyers wrote, “and did not think of the potential consequences.”

Even after Mr. Llakatura was arrested in December 2013, he continued to pursue his victims, prosecutors said. According to an informant he met at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Mr. Llakatura sent members of his own family to find the owner of the seafood restaurant in a failed attempt to retaliate against him for cooperating with the government.

Prosecutors also claimed that Mr. Llakatura, who was married, terrorized his girlfriend, physically abusing her and tracking her movements with a GPS device that he secretly placed on her car. Though the girlfriend, who was not identified in court papers, told the court last year that Mr. Llakatura never harmed her, prosecutors said that she testified to a federal grand jury that he had once dragged her by her neck into a bathroom and flushed her head in a toilet. In a separate episode, prosecutors said, the girlfriend “got scared” during an argument with Mr. Llakatura and tried to jump out of a moving car.

While assigned to the 120th Precinct in Staten Island, Mr. Llakatura won three Meritorious Police Duty medals, his lawyers said, and once broke his right hand while arresting a man who was high on P.C.P. and tried to stab two fellow officers.

But according to the government, Mr. Llakatura led a double life, “serving as an N.Y.P.D. officer sworn to uphold the laws he so flagrantly violated.”

“He violated his oath,” prosecutors said, “disparaging his badge and the reputation of law enforcement officers more generally.”


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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