Some interesting stuff from the New York Times: (I'd like to know where Soccer is or was)
Jan. 3, 2006
Photo: Alex Rudaj, outside Jimbo's Bar in Astoria, Queens, on April 15, 2003. Authorities say he runs the Corporation, an Albanian group that they believe is trying to become New York City's sixth mob family. (Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Beginning in the 1990's, the Corporation, led by a man named Alex Rudaj, established ties with established organized crime figures including members of the Gambino crime family, the authorities say. Then, through negotiations or in armed showdowns, the Albanians struck out on their own, daring to battle the Luchese and Gambino families for territory in Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County, prosecutors say.
During one of these confrontations, in August 2001 at an Astoria gambling parlor called Soccer Fever, Mr. Rudaj and at least 14 of his men served notice of their intentions to an associate of the Gambino family who ran the club, prosecutors contend in court documents.
Brandishing guns, one of Mr. Rudaj's men overturned gambling tables, another grabbed money, and a third pistol-whipped a patron, the authorities said.
''Gentlemen, the game is over,'' one of Mr. Rudaj's men told patrons playing barbout, a dice game. These details and more have emerged during the trial of Mr. Rudaj and five other men in Federal District Court in Manhattan. A jury is now deliberating charges against them, including racketeering, attempted murder, extortion, loan-sharking and gambling.
The defense lawyers have called the government's claims exaggerated, and although they concede that the six men conducted gambling operations, the lawyers deny that their clients belonged to a criminal organization that used violence and extortion to maintain its network of profitable gambling interests, as prosecutors have said. A verdict is possible this week.
Dec. 20, 2005
Ms. Rodgers, the prosecutor, said the Albanian crime ring had controlled a network of 50 video gambling machines. The machines themselves, a type of arcade game, are not illegal, but it is illegal to pay money to winners. The ring collected protection payments and illegal gambling proceeds weekly from various restaurants and social clubs in the Bronx and Astoria.
One machine, Ms. Rodgers said, could generate more than $7,000 a week. But even by a conservative estimate, she said, 100 machines generating $750 a week would produce $4 million a year.
After a showdown between Italians and Albanians at a club called Soccer Fever in Astoria, Mr. Ivezaj was recorded, in a tape played for the jury during the trial, saying that if the Italians had pulled their guns, "Everybody dies. Guaranteed. Nobody walks out of there alive. Either them or us." The trial will continue today with closing arguments by the defense.
I couldn't resist adding this tidbit, even though it has nothing to do with Astoria:
Members of the Albanian organization felt so sure of themselves that they claimed John Gotti's old table at Rao's, the exclusive East Harlem restaurant patronized by writers and reputed Italian crime family members, Ms. Rodgers said.