By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Fort Lauderdale police said yesterday that they charged three men in the 2001 gangland-style slaying of a Florida businessman who was gunned down in his car months after selling a casino cruise line to a group that included Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was killed on a Fort Lauderdale street on Feb. 6, 2001. Two of the three men charged had been hired as consultants by Adam Kidan, one of Abramoff's partners in the SunCruz Casinos venture.
Anthony Moscatiello, 67, identified by authorities as a former bookkeeper for the Gambino crime family, was arrested Monday night in Queens, N.Y. Anthony Ferrari, 48, was arrested in Miami Beach. Both were charged with murder, conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder. James Fiorillo, 28, was arrested in Palm Coast, Fla., yesterday and charged with murder and conspiracy.
Boulis, millionaire founder of the Miami Subs sandwich chain, sold SunCruz to Abramoff and Kidan in September 2000, at a time when Abramoff was one of Washington's most powerful lobbyists. Abramoff and Kidan were indicted last month on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy in connection with a $60 million loan they obtained to purchase the casino company.
Abramoff is at the center of a federal investigation into lobbying for Indian tribes and influence-peddling in Washington. Abramoff used contacts with GOP Reps. Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Robert W. Ney (Ohio) and their staffs as he worked to land the SunCruz deal, interviews and court records show.
The indictment in the Boulis slaying remained under seal yesterday, and authorities declined to disclose details of the charges against the defendants. Michael D. Becker, a Miami lawyer who has represented the men in other matters, said yesterday that he has not spoken to them yet.
Attorneys for Kidan and Abramoff said their clients have no knowledge about who killed Boulis. The two men were on a business trip abroad the night Boulis was shot. "Adam has cooperated with police right from the beginning. He's never been told he is a subject or a target," said Kidan's attorney, Martin Jaffe.
Fort Lauderdale police say they have long been interested in interviewing Abramoff, but he has repeatedly begged off, citing scheduling difficulties. Abramoff's attorney, Neal Sonnett, said after the fraud indictment that his client knows nothing about the slaying but would be willing to meet with detectives. He said he had no comment on the murder charges.
Abramoff and Kidan have been friends since their days as College Republicans in Washington. Kidan, of New York, owned the Dial-a-Mattress franchise in the District until it filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s. Their third partner in the SunCruz deal was Reagan administration official Ben Waldman.
Dealings between Boulis and the Abramoff group were often tense. At key points in the negotiations, Ney placed comments in the Congressional Record -- first sharply criticizing Boulis and later praising the new ownership under Kidan. Ney later said he had been unaware of Kidan's background.
Also during the negotiations, Abramoff brought a lender he was trying to impress to hobnob with DeLay in Abramoff's FedEx Field skybox at a Redskins-Cowboys game. DeLay has said he does not remember meeting the lender.
After the sale, the friction led to a December 2000 fistfight between Kidan and Boulis, who had remained as a minority partner. Kidan told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Boulis had said, "I'm not going to sue you, I'm going to kill you." Kidan said that SunCruz thereafter barred Boulis from its casino boats.
Homicide detectives have been investigating payments made to Moscatiello, his daughter and Ferrari in the months before the killing. SunCruz paid $145,000 to Moscatiello and his daughter for catering, consulting and "site inspections," Kidan said in a 2001 civil court deposition.
There is no evidence that food or drink was provided or that any consulting documents were prepared, according to court documents. The checks to Jennifer Moscatiello were made at Anthony Moscatiello's instruction, although his daughter provided no services for the money, Kidan said in his deposition.
Moscatiello was indicted on federal heroin-trafficking charges in 1983 along with Gene Gotti, brother of John Gotti, then head of the Gambino family. Gene Gotti and several others were sent to prison, but the charges against Moscatiello were later dropped.
Kidan met Moscatiello in 1990 while he was running New York City's Best Bagels in the Hamptons and Moscatiello was running a catering hall. Moscatiello provided Kidan advice on running the business. Kidan said in a deposition that he was unaware of Moscatiello's 1983 indictment or his affiliations with the Gottis.
SunCruz also paid a company called Moon Over Miami Beach Inc. $95,000 for surveillance services in 2001. Ferrari is a principal in Moon Over Miami Beach. Ferrari and several associates also reportedly received $10,000 in SunCruz casino chips.
Kidan has denied that the SunCruz payments to Moscatiello and Ferrari had anything to do with the slaying. In 2001, he told the Miami Herald: "If I'm going to pay to have Gus killed, am I going to be writing checks to the killers? I don't think so. Why would I leave a paper trail?"
Abramoff and Kidan were indicted last month by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy relating to their $147.5 million SunCruz purchase. Prosecutors alleged that Abramoff and Kidan faked a wire transfer of $23 million -- the down payment they had agreed to put into the deal for the day-cruise casino boats.
In civil filings in the bankruptcy of SunCruz, Abramoff blamed Kidan for defrauding lenders. Kidan has said the lenders were aware that the buyers were not actually putting up the $23 million in cash for the purchase. Their trial is scheduled for Jan. 9.