FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A former partner of disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a fraudulent casino boats deal testified Wednesday that an associate with purportedly high-level links to New York's Gambino crime family ordered the 2001 slaying of a prominent South Florida businessman.
Adam Kidan, who purchased the SunCruz Casinos fleet with Abramoff in 2000, pointed the finger at 73-year-old Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello at a pretrial hearing. Kidan, 47, said Moscatiello told him face-to-face he was behind the shooting death of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis by a New York-based mob hit man.
Kidan said they met at Miami Beach's posh Fontainebleau Hotel a few days after Boulis -- who had been embroiled in a legal and financial dispute over SunCruz with Kidan and his people -- was ambushed in his green BMW on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street on Feb. 6, 2001.
"He said it was a decision that he made, that just had to be done," Kidan quoted Moscatiello as saying. "He decided it was the right thing at the right time. He told me that it wasn't supposed to happen that way. They were trying to speak with Mr. Boulis. The plan of choice if they couldn't speak with Mr. Boulis was to kidnap him."
Moscatiello and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari could get the death penalty if convicted of masterminding the Boulis killing. Both have pleaded not guilty, and Moscatiello's attorney has previously denied ties to organized crime. A third suspect, 34-year-old James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and is now a prosecution witness.
Abramoff and Kidan both pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and served prison time in the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz from Boulis. Abramoff, once a high-powered lobbyist in the nation's capital, also was convicted of bribery and corruption involving numerous public officials. Neither Kidan nor Abramoff have been implicated in the Boulis killing.
The hearing Wednesday concerns a prosecution motion to revoke Moscatiello's $500,000 bail and force him to remain jailed until a trial expected later this year. Prosecutor Brian Cavanaugh said Fiorillo and Kidan's testimony implicates Moscatiello strongly enough to revoke bail, along with other witnesses who said he was close with former Gambino top boss John Gotti.
Kidan testified that Boulis had previously threatened to kill him, which led Kidan to boost security at his office and the SunCruz ships. Kidan said he was looking for "organized crime" connections and decided to contact Moscatiello, who operated a wine wholesale business. Eventually Kidan made Moscatiello a food and beverage consultant for the casino ships as well.
"I felt they had the appropriate connections to do what I was hoping they would do," Kidan said of Moscatiello and Ferrari, who became the local security contact. "To put the word out that I was a friend of theirs."
With the dispute escalating -- Kidan said he even bought a bulletproof car -- Kidan was on a trip in London when he got a phone call from Ferrari about Boulis's death. He said he was shocked and also suspicious, because the slaying hadn't yet been reported by news media.
"That wasn't what I discussed or what I wanted," Kidan testified. ""I thought that it would bring tremendous unnecessary attention to the business."
Later, Kidan said another killing was discussed involving Boulis's former chief financial officer, Joan Wagner, who was now leading the Boulis side in the legal dispute over SunCruz. Ferrari, Kidan said, mentioned that they could stage an accident using a dump truck.
"I said, 'You already killed one person, how can you kill another?' There was no denial," Kidan testified. "I was adamantly against it."
No such attempt was made. Eventually, Kidan began cooperating with the FBI and won a sentence reduction for the fraud conviction in return for his testimony in that case and the Boulis slaying.
Authorities say the man who actually pulled the trigger that night was John Gurino, who Kidan testified was brought down from New York by Moscatiello for the job. Gurino, in turn, was later shot to death in a dispute with the owner of a Boca Raton delicatessen.
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