Defense questions star witness in Gus Boulis trial

James 'Pudgy' Fiorillo testifies for second straight day

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Defense attorney on Wednesday continued their cross examination of a star witness in the Gus Boulis murder trial.

James "Pudgy" Fiorillo was originally charged in the Miami Subs founders killing, but later pleaded guilty and is now testifying against the two men who prosecutors say organized the hit, Anthony 'Little Tony' Ferrari and Anthony 'Big Tony' Moscatiello.

On Tuesday, Fiorillo told jurors that Ferrari had him to get rid of the murder weapon and clean out the car that was used by the gunman in the hit. But defense attorneys tried proving that Fiorillo only testified to avoid prison time.

"Were you there when Gus Boulis was shot?" asked defense attorney David Bogenschutz.

"What do you mean?" replied Fiorillo.

"Just what I said. Were you there when Gus Boulis was shot?" Bogenshutz said.

"No," Fiorillo said.

It was exactly the answer Bogenschutz wanted because the defender proceeded to point out that Pudgy has admitted in previous depositions that he was there the night Boulis was killed.

"I could have misunderstood the question at the time," Fiorillo said as he tried to explain his different answers to the same question.

Prosecutors allege that Ferrari and Moscatiello arranged the mob-style hit on Boulis on Feb. 6, 2001.

"Delay is any case is a defense attorney's best friend," said Marla Chicotsky, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.

She explained the case against Big and Little Tony depends heavily on the memory of witnesses, the type of evidence that's particularly susceptible to time. Unlike fingerprints and DNA, which can be preserved forever, she says witnesses can sometimes unintentionally change their stories over the years, opening the door for a defense attorney to pounce.

"A defense attorney can impeach that witness on the stand and really go after that discrepancy and say well you said ten years ago that you saw him five feet away and now you're saying ten, you must not be telling the truth, and really expose that witnesses credibility that way," Chicotsky said.

Defense attorneys in the Boulis case have been able to point out minor discrepancies in some of the witnesses statements, but they claim Fiorillo doesn't suffer from a lapse of memory. Instead, they believe he's pointing the finger at Ferrari and Moscatiello to save his skin.

Fiorillo served six years in jail before he turned state's evidence. In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors have promised that he won't go to prison for the role he played in Boulis' murder.

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.

Moscatiello, 75, and the 56-year-old Ferrari face the death penalty if convicted.

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