Testimony is set to resume Wednesday in the trial of two men accused in the 2001 gangland-style slaying of South Florida businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, which has been plagued by delays caused by a defense attorney's illness that threatened to disrupt or even derail the case.
Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes had wrestled Monday with whether to declare a mistrial or release the 13 jurors from sequestration because of the undisclosed illness suffered since last week by attorney David Bogenschutz. He represents Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, who is accused along with Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari of first-degree murder in Boulis' shooting death. Each faces the death penalty if convicted.
But after speaking privately with Bogenschutz's doctor, Holmes announced that she had received assurances the defense lawyer should be ready to resume participation in the trial in two days. Testimony has been suspended since last Thursday.
"Wednesday is doable. It's a done deal," Holmes said.
If that plan falls apart, the judge added, she will not keep the jurors sequestered any longer. They have been isolated together, away from homes, families and work, since testimony began Sept. 30 in an attempt to insulate them from media coverage.
Boulis was shot to death on Feb. 6, 2001 in his car on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street by what prosecutors say was a mob hit man. The killing came during a struggle for control of the lucrative SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet, which Boulis had sold in 2000 to New York businessman Adam Kidan and Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Before running SunCruz, Boulis founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain.
Prosecutors say Moscatiello was a high-ranking member of New York's Gambino organized crime family and that Ferrari was Moscatiello's man in South Florida. The two had contracts with SunCruz's new owners that were threatened by Boulis' potential return, according to earlier trial testimony.
Earlier Monday, prosecutors and defense lawyers argued against a mistrial over Bogenschutz's illness and against severing the two defendants into separate trials. Holmes said she did not have authority to declare a mistrial based on the attorney's illness and seemed to agree that splitting the trial in two would not be the best solution.
The judge noted that when the trial began, Ferrari, jailed and awaiting trial since 2005, had been doing so longer than all but one inmate in the Broward County jail. Moscatiello is free on bail.
"Things unforeseen have kind of put the court in a bind here," Holmes said. "No judge in this county has wanted to get this case underway more than I did."