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Tuesday, November 2, 2004

The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia

updated: June 17, 2006

Albanian Mafia

The Rudaj Organization is the name given the Albanian Mafia in the New York City metro area in a 44-page indictment unsealed last week in New York. Twenty-six people were indicted in connection with racketeering, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, gambling and loan-sharking.

On October 26th, 2004, the FBI and Manhattan U.S. Attorney David Kelley announced the arrest of the group's alleged boss, Alex Rudaj, and 21 other reputed gang members charged in the indictment. Kelley's office said it believes the indictment is the first federal racketeering case in the United States against an alleged organized crime enterprise run by Albanians. The Journal News reports:
The indictment includes an alleged episode in which the Rudaj Organization, so named for the man accused of being its kingpin, Alex Rudaj of Yorktown, muscled in on two members of a "competing criminal organization" that "was also involved in controlling and protecting illegal gambling" in Queens. The Mafia members are identified only as "Victim 3" and "Victim 4." The indictment said the Albanian mob instilled a fear of physical violence in their mob victims...

The Rudaj Organization, called "The Corporation" by its members, started in 1993 in Westchester and spread to the Bronx and Queens, law enforcement officials said.

Fred Snelling, the agent in charge of the FBI's criminal division in New York, said the organization amounted to a "sixth family."
[the five traditional NY Mafia families: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese]
"They are truly organized in their efforts to bring havoc to this community," Snelling said.

During a bail hearing for one of the two dozen people arrested in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Treanor said that the Albanian mob had taken over the operations of the Lucchese family in Astoria (Queens).
The Westchester County men charged:
  • Alex Rudaj (Allie Boy, Uncle Radaj, Xhaxhai, Sandro Rudovic), age 37, 975 Sunset St., Yorktown.
  • Nikola Dedaj (Nicky Nails, Big Nick, Nikol), 41, 18 Danby Place, Yonkers.
  • Angelo DiPietro (Fat Angelo), 47, 78 Sagamore Road, Hopewell Junction, lived until recently in Mount Vernon. Former owner of Sue's Rendezvous, a strip club in Mount Vernon, NY
  • Angelo Capalbo (Angelina), 5 Rosewood Road, White Plains.
  • Michael Pizzuti, 46 Glen Road, Eastchester.
  • Nicola Murdocca (Nick), 74 Pleasant Ridge Road, Harrison.
  • Joseph Genua, 44 Fleetwood Ave., Mount Vernon.
  • Harold Bringman, 222 Center Ave., New Rochelle.
  • Joseph Bongiovanni (Joe Bong), 6 South Road, Harrison.
  • Paul Avitable (Shad the Rooster), 25 Westview Drive, Rye.
Others charged:
  • Nardino Colotti (Leonardo, Lenny), age 42, lives in Bronx, NY - Italian with ties to the late Gambino soldier Skinny Phil Loscalzo
  • Anthony DiPietro (Ant)
  • Prenka Ivezaj (Frankie, Big Frank), 39, lives in Queens, New York.
  • Ioannis "John" Karagiannis
  • Lefteris Katsigiannis
  • Spiros Karagiannis
  • Gregory Kommatas
  • Gjelosh "Joey" Lelcaj, 30, lives in Bronx, New York.
  • Nikolaos Michalopoulos (Kefala)
  • Ljusa "Louie" Nuculovic, 46, lives in Hopewell Junction, New York.
  • Nikola "Nicky" Nuculovic
  • Paul "Paulie" Nuculovic
  • Petros Pantazis
  • Miri Patani (Saverio Valente)
  • Kostas Panzialis
  • Sheikh Abdul Shakoor (Shaku)
Mr. Rudaj and twenty other defendants (listed above) were taken into custody on the morning of Oct. 26, 2004, with the following exceptions:
Defendant Angelo Dipietro was already in custody. Defendants Gjelosh Lelcaj and Miri Patani were at large. It is unclear what the exact status was of defendants Ioannis Karagiannis and Spiros Karagiannis.

The indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges, and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Gjelosh Lelcaj

Gjelosh Lelcaj (Aliases: Gjelosh Lelgaj, Joey Lelcaj, Joey Gjelosh) captured by the FBI sometime after Oct. 26, 2004.

Lelcaj is allegedly a member of the Albanian Criminal Enterprise (The Rudaj Organization) and was charged with extortion, participating in illegal gambling operations, providing protection to organized gambling clubs controlled by the organization, and using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.

Miri Patani

Miri Patani - Rudaj Organization member - Wanted By Feds call (212) 384-5000 with information. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Miri Patani. He should be considered armed and dangerous.

Rudaj, Nardino Colotti and Nikola Dedaj were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, with leading the organization. Prenka Ivezaj, Ljusa Nuculovic, Angelo Dipietro, and Gjelosh Lelcaj were also charged under the RICO indictment. Rudaj stole the nickname "Allie Boy" from the Colombo family's boss Alphonse Persico.

Specifics regarding the attack on the Lucchese crime family:

Rudaj lead an attack in August 2001 on two members of the Lucchese crime family who ran a gambling racket inside a Greek social club called Soccer Fever at 26-80 30th St. in Queens, according to the indictment.

Rudaj and at least six other men entered the club with guns on Aug. 3, beat one of the men in the head with a pistol and chased them out of the neighborhood by threatening to destroy the building, the indictment said. The Rudaj Organization then opened or began collecting protection payments from at least six Astoria, Queens gambling clubs including:
  • Athenia on Newtown Avenue
  • The Saloni Social Club on 30th Avenue
  • And Sanidisi on 31st Street
  • Skutarija on 23rd Avenue
  • An unidentified club on 30th Avenue
  • Zeus on 23rd Avenue
The clubs were allegedly managed by Rudaj Organization member Louie Nucolovic until March 2004, when Rudaj kicked him out and personally took over, said Megan Gaffney, a spokeswoman with the Department of Justice.

The gambling dens the mob ran in the NY area were very lucrative. The seven clubs listed above were among 50 gambling spots the gang ran. The RICO indictment attempts to seize $5.8 million in ill-gotten gains from seven defendants and $3.4 million from all 22 defendants, based on the gambling allegations.

The Feds said that before the gang was brought down it was discussing expanding into Bayside, Queens.

On Nov 4th the Journal News reported:
The lawyer (James Kousouros) for accused mob kingpin Alex Rudaj yesterday denied his client was the leader of a ruthless organized-crime group, saying he was a hardworking family man and philanthropist...

"My client vehemently denies the charges that he is some sort of mob kingpin," he said. "He's a family man. He's got a wife and two children. He's worked at a variety of jobs. He paid his taxes." Kousouros said that Rudaj, an ethnic Albanian from Yugoslavia, had done many "philanthropic deeds" in his native country.
Mr. Rudaj was denied bail on Dec. 7, 2004 and his trial was scheduled to begin Sept. 26, 2005.

Albanian 'Mafiosi' in feds' net [NY Daily News]
Moving in on the mob [NY Daily News]
Albania 'Mafia' Broken [NY Post]
Albanian crime ring suspects arrested [CNN]
NYC mob family kicked out by Albanian gang [UPI / Washington Times]
Feds bust Albanian mobsters' Astoria gambling ring [TimesLedger.com, Dec. 16, 2004]

archived stories ($2.95 for one $6.95 for three):
Albanian mob follows demographic shift [The Journal News, Nov. 1, 2004] [alternate link]
10 Westchester men linked to Albanian mob [The Journal News, Oct. 27, 2004]
Lawyer says Rudaj is no gangster [The Journal News, Nov. 4, 2004]

It is interesting that the NY Times did not publish anything on this story. No US news organization published the names of all 26 indicted individuals-that information came from the DOJ press release and the individuals were also listed on an Albanian web site: Shekulli Online.

update: Jan. 6, 2006 - Alex Rudaj and five of his gang members were convicted of racketeering on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006.

update: June 17, 2006 -

On Friday, June 16, 2006, Alex Rudaj, 38, was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for racketeering, extortion and gambling offenses.

Three of Rudaj's co-defendants also got hit with stiff sentences in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Judge Denise Cote.

27 years for Nardino "Lenny" Colotti of the Bronx.

26 years and 7 months for Nick "Big Nick" Dedaj of Yonkers.

22 years for Prenka "Frankie" Ivezaj of Queens.

The men had faced maximum sentences of life in prison. They were also ordered on Friday to forfeit a total of $5.75 million and four properties to the government. They also must each serve five years of supervised release.

Sixteen other defendants from the Rudaj Organization have already pleaded guilty.

Rudaj's lawyer, James Kousouros, said they planned to appeal.

4 members of upstart Albanian crime group sentenced, fined [Newsday, June 17, 2006]
Yorktown man, head of crime family, sentenced to 27 years [TheJournalNews.com, June 17, 2006]
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia - Convicted in Racketeering Trial [TJN, Jan. 5, 2006]
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 8 [Nov. 16, 2005]
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 3 [Oct. 11, 2005]
Gangs of New York: Rudaj vs. Gambinos [Dec. 14, 2004]
Albanian Mafia Boss Denied Bail [Dec. 10, 2004]
New Mafia Gangs of New York fly below the radar screen [Nov. 15, 2004]
The New Islamic Mafia / Albanian Mafia: Information Summary [Sept. 25, 2004]