Bray's Hamburgers owner accused of running loan shark operation - KMSP-TV

Bray's Hamburgers owner accused of running loan shark operation

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You could call Tom Duhanaj a friend of the politicians.  Records show he's donated to the campaigns of Gary Peters and Carl Levin.  He's also posed with other political big wigs like Sander Levin and former President Bill Clinton.

The same man is now under arrest, charged with lying to federal investigators and accused of running a loan shark operation for fellow Albanians, including a candidate for the 13th Congressional District, John Goci of Westland.

"I'm kind of shocked about [the] charges," said Goci.  "Not the guy I know.  I've seen him around town.  He's been really good.  He helped me out in my time of need.  I'm a small business owner, and sometimes you have ideas and it takes money to make things happen."

Goci, who has been questioned by federal investigators, says he received a $30,000 loan and has a picture of the check to prove it, but he claims the money came from Oakland County businessman Randy Dzierzawski.  Duhanaj acted as the middle man.

How did Goci know to go to him as a middle man?

"I heard that in the community, that he knew a guy that was loaning out money, that had access to money, so that's what I did."

Sources say Duhanaj charged high interest on his loans up to 45 percent and threatened violence if he didn't get paid.

Goci said he was only charged 15 percent and never felt he was in danger when he accepted a loan to help his Wayne restaurant that was going through tough financial times.

"15 percent.  It was a little higher than the bank, but you know what, it's a little simpler to get."

On Thursday, federal agents raided Duhanaj's restaurants, Bray's Hamburgers in Westland and Capital Coney Island in Ferndale and his home in Troy,
sources say in search of financial records.

According to federal court documents, 42-year-old Duhanaj entered this country illegally in 2002 to escape the violence in the former Yugoslavia.  He was arrested a short time later and fought for political asylum, but lost.  He's been under investigation for months and because of his alleged crimes, he will be deported.

Goci claims he never knew of Duhanaj's past and hopes it won't impact his political future.

"I hope not.  I hope people will see through this.  I've done nothing wrong.  I'm just a small businessman trying to keep my door open."

It turns out Duhanaj even donated to Goci's campaign, but he told us he plans to return the $1,000.

Although he isn't considered a frontrunner, Goci said he has run a strong campaign and if elected plans to get people back to work and create equality in education.

We were unable to reach Dzierzawski for comment Monday evening.

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