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Key witness testifies in Anthony 'Big Tony' Moscatiello murder trial

Dwayne Nicholson says reputed mobster asked him to kill Miami Subs founder Gus Boulis

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The state laid the groundwork for its case Tuesday in the retrial of a reputed mobster charged in the 2001 killing of a prominent South Florida businessman who owned gambling ships and founded Miami Subs restaurants.

Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the gangland-style murder of Gus Boulis.

The 51-year-old Greek immigrant was executed along a Fort Lauderdale street on Feb. 6, 2001, when his BMW was boxed in after he had left his office. One of the drivers shot him three times.

At the time that he was gunned down, Boulis was trying to regain control of his gambling boat fleet after negotiations with its new owners went sour.

The state contends that Moscatiello orchestrated the hit to protect financial interests in the ships. The defense denies any involvement. 

Boulis's nephew took the stand Tuesday, recalling the moment he heard what had happened.

"The next thing I remember is there was a police officer that kind of pulled me out of there and took me to a room and told me that Gus had been shot and that he was dead, that he was pronounced dead," Spiro Noas said.

Later in the afternoon the state called on a key witness, identified as Dwayne Nicholson. Nicholson claims that both Moscatiello and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari first asked him to kill Boulis, but he refused.

Nicholson said he told them that he would hurt Boulis or break his legs, but he would not kill him.

"I told him straight up, 'No. I won't kill him. I'll break his legs. I'll hurt him. You know, but I won't kill him," Nicholson testified. "For a minute he said, 'OK, we'll figure out something else.' I thought that was the end of it."

Nicholson said he was afraid Moscatiello would pin the murder on him, so he went to police and agreed to cooperate.

"I know what they're going to do, and I'm not going to be part of it," Nicholson testified. "So they've got to get rid of me."

Witnesses said the gunman, John "J.J." Gurino, was later killed in a dispute with a Boca Raton delicatessen owner.

Ferrari was sentenced in 2013 to life in prison without parole.

Moscatiello denies mob ties and has pleaded not guilty. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

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