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Bookie loan sharks dealt lengthy prison sentences

Two reputed leaders of a violent Mayfair-based bookmaking and loan shark operation were ordered last Thursday to serve long prison sentences for violating federal racketeering, extortion, gambling and conspiracy laws.

U.S. District Judge William Yohn ordered Ylli Gjeli, 49, to serve 168 months in prison, and Fatimir Mustafaraj, 42, to serve 147 months. Authorities identified Gjeli as the ringleader and Mustafaraj as the “muscle” of the operation.

In December, a jury found both men guilty, along with two co-defendants, in connection with a criminal enterprise that operated from multiple businesses on the 7000 block of Frankford Ave., including Lion Bar & Grill, the former Blackbird Cafe and its successor, Ylli’s 2 Brothers.

From October 2011 to 2013, the organization extended 125 usurous loans totaling $1.78 million with annual interest rates ranging from 104 percent to 395 percent. From February 2007 to August 2013, the organization’s sports betting website generated more than $2.9 million in gross profits, authorities said.

Seven co-defendants, five of whom pleaded guilty rather than take their cases to trial, await sentencing. ••

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