A Melrose man originally from Albania allegedly preyed on two of his fellow countrymen, stringing them along for years - and thousands of dollars in payments - by pretending he was a G-man who could get one a law-enforcement job and get the other one's wife kicked out of the country, according to a federal complaint filed last week.
Gjerji Pelushi, 28, faces up to three years in prison on the two charges of impersonating a federal officer, which included having one of the men conduct "surveillance" on a sex offender selected at random, a local mosque and alleged bridge-photographing terrorists in Somerville.
According to an affidavit by an FBI agent who investigated the case, Pelushi managed to extract $20,000 and a Toyota Avalon from an Albanian native who wanted to get a job in law enforcement despite health problems.
The real FBI agent says Pelushi told the man at different times he was either an FBI agent or a CIA operative. He told him that he was assigned to patrol the Marathon this year - and had authorization to shoot anybody in the head whom he found with a suspicious bag who didn't immediately follow his orders.
Over the course of four years, the FBI agent wrote, Pelushi had the man conduct a series of "tasks" to prove his mettle:
In late 2010 and 2011, at Pelushi's direction, Victim 1 selected an individual listed on the Massachusetts sex offender registry list and conducted periodic "surveillance" of the individual for many months. Victim 1 conducted surveillance of the individual in both Massachusetts and Rhode island.
Also in early 2011, at Pelushi's direction Victim 1 conducted periodic "surveillance" of a local mosque and wrote down the license plates of cars from New York and New Jersey. In March 2011, Victim 1 drove Pelushi to New York so that Pelushi could meet with his contacts at the "Joint Terrorism Task Force" and report his "findings" regarding the mosque. Victim 1 was required to cover the expense of the trip. ...
Later that year, Pelushi told Victim 1 that [a police lieutenant they had both met] had passed on a tip that several individuals in Somerville were "potential terrorists." Pelushi provided an address and license plate number of one of the suspected "terrorists" to Victim 1 and directed Victim 1 to conduct "surveillance." Victim 1 conducted surveillance as directed by Pelushi. After Pelushi advised Victim 1 that he had proof that the Somerville individuals were "filming" bridges and had met with "fundamentalists" at a mosque, Victim 1 again drove Pelushi to New York so that Pelushi could meet with his contacts at the "Joint Terrorism Task Force." Victim 1 was required to cover the expense of the trip.
In the other case, Pelushi told an Albanian native facing a charge of domestic assault and battery he could get the man's wife deported after the criminal case was over.
As in the other case, he took several thousand dollars from the man and had the victim drive him down to New York for alleged meetings. Back in Boston, he would have the man drop him off in front of the FBI offices on Cambridge Street downtown.
By this point, the first victim had soured on Pelushi and gone to the FBI - after one of the alleged government officials Pelushi claimed to be working with told the man he was not a federal official. And then, the two alleged victims met somehow and Victim 1 filled Victim 2 in - and he went to the FBI as well.