Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 8, 2016
New York Man Receives Federal Prison Time for Extortion Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that ERNEST SYKU, 45, of the Bronx, N.Y., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for operating an extortion scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, SYKU and Robert Francella threatened a Connecticut resident with violence in order to induce the victim to pay an alleged $240,000 debt. SYKU claimed that this debt was owed to SYKU’s deceased uncle, even though the victim stated the debt had been repaid. On one occasion, SYKU told the victim that SYKU was “the one who can break you in many pieces.” SYKU further told the victim that the victim was “doomed” if the victim did not bring SYKU the money. On another occasion, SYKU told the victim that he “crushes everybody’s head who gets in my way.” SYKU also provided his cellular telephone to Francella, who threatened “to cut the head” off the victim. SYKU had promised Francella a portion of any monies collected in order to induce Francella’s participation in the extortion scheme.
At sentencing, the victim stated that he and his spouse were fearful for their family’s safety, particularly because SYKU made references to the location of their home.
SYKU and Francella were arrested on March 13, 2014. After he was arrested, SYKU confessed to law enforcement that he had hired and directed Francella to scare the victim into paying the alleged debt.
On April 27, 2015, SYKU pleaded guilty to one count of attempted collection of extension of credit by extortionate means.
Francella, of Yonkers, N.Y., pleaded guilty on November 17, 2014. On June 1, 2015, he was sentenced to approximately 15 months of imprisonment, time already served, and one year of supervised release.
This matter was investigated by the FBI Fairfield County Organized Crime Task Force and the Bridgeport Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hal Chen and Heather Cherry.