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New York City man gets 18 years for helping crooked cop extort small business owners

March 11, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
New York City man gets 18 years for helping crooked cop extort small business owners

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A New York City man who plotted with a crooked cop is getting 18 years behind bars after he shook down people for protection money.

On Friday, Denis Nikolla was sentenced for bullying owners of small businesses in Astoria, Queens.

Among his tough-guy methods, Nikolla placed a gun into a nightclub owner’s ribs and demanded weekly payment — or else he’d threatened to beat the man in front of his relatives. Furthermore, if the man still didn’t pay $400 every week, Nikolla said he’d beat up the man’s family in front of him.

Nikolla and the others accepted $24,000 from another business owner over the durations of several months. When the restaurateur did not pay, prosecutors said Nikolla pointed a semiautomatic gun at him and was ready to open fire. The victim managed to flee in his vehicle.

Denis Nikolla was sentenced Friday for his part in extortion efforts that bullied small business owners in Astoria. (U.S. GOVERNMENT )

Last year, the 36-year-old pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy, using a gun, and threats of physical violence.

Former NYPD officer Besnik Llakatura pleaded guilty to weapons and extortion charges back in December 2015. Redinel Dervishaj was found guilty at trial. Both men are awaiting sentencing.

On Friday, Brooklyn Federal Judge Eric Vitaliano said that Nikolla provided “a large portion of that muscle” in the scheme, the New York Daily News reported.

In a case using wiretaps and surveillance, Vitaliano said he still remembered the crackle of Llakatura’s radio as one of the shakedowns took place.

Former NYPD cop Besnik Llakatura (l.) pleaded guilty to firearms and extortion charges in December 2015. Redinel Dervishaj was found guilty at trial.

Prosecutors argued that Nikolla and the other men imposed serious harm on their victims.

One person was forced to sell his business at a loss and move to an unidentified location after being victimized by the scheme, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said the crooked cop, Nikolla and other members of the conspiracy used “fear, intimidation, and threats of violence to demand payment from those who dared to open businesses on their turf.’”

He added that the sentence “sends a message that criminals who use extortion and violence to profit from others’ hard work in our community will be held accountable and punished.”

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