Feds nab alleged Mayfair loan sharks

Fed­er­al rack­et­eer­ing charges were filed last week against nine al­leged book­makers and loan sharks who con­duc­ted their ne­far­i­ous and some­times vi­ol­ent busi­ness in­side sev­er­al May­fair shops, au­thor­it­ies said.

The il­leg­al op­er­a­tion was largely based on the 7000 block of Frank­ford Ave. in­side the Li­on Bar & Grill, First Eng­land Pizza, the former Black­bird Cafe and its suc­cessor, Ylli’s 2 Broth­ers, the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice said in a news re­lease on Fri­day.

All nine sus­pects were ar­res­ted that morn­ing, in­clud­ing city res­id­ents Ylli Gjeli, 48; Fatimir Musta­fa­raj, 41; George Marka­kis, 43; Gez­im As­llani, 34; Rez­art Rahmi Telushi, 40; En­eo Ja­haj, 26; and Ar­dit Pone, 35; as well as Erion Murataj, 35, of Hunt­ing­don Val­ley; and Bri­an Jack­son, 35, of Har­ley­s­ville. The in­dict­ment charges them with rack­et­eer­ing con­spir­acy, col­lec­tion of un­law­ful debt, mak­ing ex­tor­tion­ate loans, us­ing ex­tor­tion to col­lect loans, op­er­at­ing an il­leg­al gambling busi­ness and il­leg­al fire­arms pos­ses­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the char­ging doc­u­ment, the men made and col­lec­ted on loans with us­uri­ous in­terest rates; used in­tim­id­a­tion, threats and vi­ol­ence to make and col­lect on those loans; and made loans to bet­tors whose debts were in­curred through the book­mak­ing por­tion of the op­er­a­tion.

The de­fend­ants al­legedly threatened vic­tims with weapons such as a gun and a hatchet and told vic­tims that if they did not pay their debts, someone would kill them or “break your legs” or harm their fam­il­ies, the U.S. At­tor­ney said.

The in­dict­ment iden­ti­fies Gjeli as the “boss” of the or­gan­iz­a­tion and Musta­fa­raj as a lead­er and the “muscle.” They al­legedly fin­anced the busi­ness and used vi­ol­ence against sub­or­din­ate mem­bers and as­so­ci­ates of the or­gan­iz­a­tion as well as cus­tom­ers. Marka­kis also was a lead­er who dir­ec­ted oth­er mem­bers in the gambling side of the busi­ness, the in­dict­ment al­leges. Oth­er de­fend­ants were iden­ti­fied as “col­lect­ors” and “book­ies.”

Many of the de­fend­ants re­portedly are nat­ives of Al­bania, al­though Marka­kis is nick­named “George the Greek,” au­thor­it­ies said. All de­fend­ants are nat­ur­al­ized cit­izens of the United States. Gjeli and Musta­fa­raj face up to life in pris­on if con­victed, while the oth­ers face up to 20 years in pris­on. Tri­al dates have not been set. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus