Shackled in chains and handcuffs, Paul Brandreth, known as "Paulie" back in the day on the streets, appeared to enjoy his reputation as someone not to mess with when he took the stand in a Broward County courtroom and testified against Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari.
Ferrari, along with Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, are charged with arranging the gangland-style hit of former SunCruz casino owner Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis in February of 2001.
On the stand Monday, Brandreth testified Ferrari met with him a month after Boulis was gunned down at a car dealership in south Miami-Dade County.
"He said, 'Somebody's gotta disappear.' I says 'Uh, what for?' He says, 'Uh, somebody was in the wrong place at the wrong time and they're running their mouth and they need to go,'" said Brandreth.
Brandreth told jurors Ferrari offered him $30,000 to kill three people: Ferrari's girlfriend; his bodyguard, Dwayne Nicholson; and, James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, the admitted lookout who turned against Ferrari and Moscatiello and testified against them for the state.
"I needed to make sure that hit was sanctioned," Brandreth recalled. "I didn't want to make a move on somebody and then have to deal with the repercussions because I'm hittin' maybe, somebody, from another crew with somebody else, or a made dude. I needed to make sure that hit was sanction, that there was authorization."
Brandreth said Ferrari gave him a check for $1,100 as a down payment, enough to pay his rent. The balance was supposed to come after the killings. He testified that Fiorillo, who was hiding out in a hotel room in New York, was supposed to be his first target.
"I was like his knight and shining armor," said Brandreth. "I was going to get him out of town so he could disappear, you know, cause the cops were looking for him, but I was really coming up to kill him. I would get him out of hotel room, whack him, and dump the body."
But Brandreth said the plan fell apart when Moscatiello pick him up at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Neither Moscatiello nor Ferrari had a gun for him, he testified.
"Pudge liked to get high on coke and he thought I was going to give him some poisonous coke or something," said Brandreth. "I said, 'What do I look like, a f*****g chemist to you?' I said I don't know anything about that, you know."
At that point, Brandreth had a change of heart. He testified he called his girlfriend in Miami and had her book him a plane ticket home.
"I didn't have a gun. They didn't pay me. I didn't have a car. I mean, it was a mess. It was a nightmare," he said.
Brandreth is serving 23 years in a federal prison for several crimes for drugs and a murder case in Miami-Dade County. He's hoping his testimony will mean a few years off his sentence.
Boulis, who was 51 when he died, founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain and operated the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Prosecutors have said he was killed during a power struggle that erupted after he sold SunCruz in 2000 to New York businessman Adam Kidan and his partner, former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Boulis had kept a 10 percent stake and hoped to regain control of the lucrative fleet.
Kidan and Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud in the $147.5 million SunCruz deal and both did stretches in federal prison. Kidan is expected to testify later in the Boulis murder trial and Abramoff is on the defense witness list. Abramoff also was the main figure in a Washington bribery scandal that resulted in 21 convictions on various corruption charges.