Tag Archives: NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly

Cop charged with extorting Astoria restaurant owner


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


An NYPD officer and two people were arrested and charged with Hobbs Act extortion of $24,000, attempted Hobbs Act extortion and brandishing a firearm against a Astoria restaurant owner.

US Attorney Loretta Lynch, FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the charges against Queens resident Redinel Dervishaj, Brooklyn resident Denis Nikolla, and officer Besnik Llakatura, who was assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island.

“The defendants told their victims they offered ‘protection,’ but in reality, they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community-their community-of Queens,” Lynch said Tuesday.

The defendants allegedly demanded monthly payments from the Astoria restaurant owner in exchange for “protection,” shortly after the victim opened his restaurant, according to court papers. Dervishaj allegedly told the victim because he had opened a business in “our neighborhood,” as a result “you have to pay us.”

The defendants allegedly took turns collecting monthly payments from the Astoria restaurant owner over five months.

When the restaurant owner tried to go to Llakatura, the cop allegedly discouraged him from going to the police and tried to persuade him to make the payments.

When he resisted he was threatened with physical violence and chased at gunpoint by Nikolla.

“By creating a climate of fear, the defendants allegedly coerced an innocent restaurant owner into paying for so-called protective services,” Venizelos said. “The victim was further betrayed when seeking the assistance of Besnik Llakatura, an NYPD officer whose sinister intentions were shrouded by his badge of honor.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

As family mourns teen, community expresses outrage over bus shooting


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

What community leaders are calling a “senseless act of violence” has left a 14-year-old girl dead, a family devastated and a neighborhood outraged.

D’aja “Asia” Robinson was shot and killed on Saturday aboard a Q6 bus near Sutphin Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard. Robinson was on her way from a sweet 16 birthday party when a shooter allegedly fired multiple times into the bus from the sidewalk, police said.

“That was my only child. My heart. My everything,” Shadia Sands, the teen’s mother, said through tears. “I don’t know how to deal with this.”

Since the incident, there has been an outpouring of grief from the community. Friends and family covered a bulletin board near the bus stop with hundreds of messages to Robinson. They described her as a charismatic, sweet girl who was a gifted singer and dancer.

Her grandmother, Cheryl Sands, stood at the board, stroking pictures of “her baby.”

“I’d die myself for [her] to come back here and live [her] life,” she said. “My heart is bleeding. She was a good girl.”

The southeast Queens community came together on Tuesday to call on the shooter or shooters to come forward. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police are looking for a suspect between the ages of 18 and 25 who was last seen wearing a black sweater, according to reports.

“South Jamaica is standing unified behind this family,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

Wills noted that prior to the shooting, the area went 255 days without a violent incident and said that South Jamaica is “not a hyper-violent community.”

The City Council announced it allocated $4.8 million to initiatives such as Cure Violence to put an end to shootings. Wills said there will be a meeting next month to discuss directing resources to the community.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the city hopes to “make this a summer where we don’t have to ever gather again to talk about the end of a child’s life.”

“What we do know is that we failed [Robinson]. The United States Congress in particular failed to protect her,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks.

Meeks called on the Congress to “enact meaningful gun control legislation to help stop the carnage in communities and homes and now buses across the nation.”

Students at Robinson’s school, Campus Magnet High School, wore purple, pink and blue earlier this week in memory of their classmate.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637) and entering TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

City Council passes resolution calling for speed cameras


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Local lawmakers are telling drivers to slow down.

On Wednesday, March 20, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law allowing New York City to set up a speed camera pilot program. It would test 20 to 40 speed cameras installed at high-risk locations across the city for five years, according to the Council, which said one in four traffic deaths in the city is caused by speeding.

“The speed cameras would not photograph the driver or disseminate the license plate number of the vehicle,” the Council said in a release.

Fines would range from $25 to $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for driving more than 30 miles above the speed limit.

“If we can save the life of just one child by reducing the speed of vehicles in our city, this pilot program will have served its purpose,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who sits on the Council’s Transportation Committee and helped spearhead the resolution. “We are obligated to protect the lives of our city residents and introducing a speed camera pilot program in New York City will help reduce excessive speeding in areas that have been plagued by drag racing, excessive vehicular crashes and pedestrian collisions.”

One accident where speed may have been a factor is the death of a nine-year-old Sunnyside girl, Hallie Geier, who, in 2004, was hit by an SUV in front of Van Bramer’s home.

Following the incident, Van Bramer and the Council worked to have the Department of Transportation (DOT) install speed humps on the block.

But more needs to be done according to the Council, and the DOT agrees.

After releasing 2012 traffic safety statistics this week, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is calling for “swift state authorization for the city to use speed-camera enforcement for the first time, with a priority given to streets near schools with documented speeding.”

Although the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, “fatal crashes overwhelmingly involved speeding (increasing from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012),” and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly is also behind the speed camera plan, according to reports, and sent a letter to state legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo expressing his support.

But the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) strongly disagrees with Kelly, and believes money for the program would be better used for other speed mitigating measures.

“Speed cameras are no substitute for live policing. Many speeders are unlicensed, some are operating under the influence and sometimes they are fleeing crime scenes or carrying weapons,” said PBA president Patrick J. Lynch. “Cameras let all those dangers slip by. Money spent on speed cameras would be far better used to improve public safety by hiring more fully trained police officers to interdict speeders.”

Photo courtesy of DOT

Queens man pleads guilty to Federal Reserve bomb plot


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Twitter/@eyewitnessnyc

The Bangladeshi national said that he wanted to “destroy America.”

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank, resolving to commit mass murder last October, according to the FBI.

Nafis first came to the United States last January on a student visa, but his intentions were instead to execute a terrorist attack on the behalf of al Qaeda.

“As [the] guilty plea shows, [Nafis] came to this country not to further his studies but to advance goals of jihad,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “Once here, he devoted his energies to refining his plan to disrupt the U.S. economy and kill Americans and attempting to recruit others to join him.”

Nafis sought to recruit multiple individuals to assist him in his quest, including al Qaeda contacts, but unknowingly recruited an FBI source who posed as an al Qaeda facilitator. At Nafis’ request, the undercover agent supplied him with 20 50-pound bags of purported explosives.

On Wednesday, October 17, the two traveled in a van to a warehouse where Nafis attempted to assemble what he believed to be a bomb. He explained to the agent that he also had a “Plan B” that involved a suicide bombing if his original plan were to be thwarted by the police.

Nafis and the undercover agent then drove to Lower Manhattan, parked next to the Federal Reserve Bank, and went to a nearby hotel. There, the 21-year-old recorded a video statement meant for the American public.

“We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” he said, according to the FBI.

Nafis then repeatedly tried to detonate the purported bomb, and was immediately arrested after his failed attempts.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that this was just one of 16 terrorist plots against the city since 9/11.

After his guilty plea, Nafis now faces life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for the end of May.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES