Jurors begin deliberations in Gus Boulis murder trial
Updated On: Oct 25 2013 10:05:04 AM EDT
Jurors will continue deliberating Friday in the trial of Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who prosecutors say coldly plotted with a mob-connected associate to have a prominent South Florida businessman killed so money would keep flowing their way from a fleet of lucrative gambling ships.
Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis had sold SunCruz Casinos and the new owners had lined up contracts with Ferrari and Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, who witnesses testified was a captain in New York's Gambino crime family. With Boulis trying to regain control, Assistant State Attorney Gregg Rossman said the two Tonys decided to have him eliminated.
"Mr. Moscatiello decided he wasn't leaving. This was his retirement," Rossman said. "They wanted control of the company."
Ferrari, 56, could get the death penalty if convicted, even though he did not pull the trigger the night of Feb. 6, 2001, when Boulis was fatally shot in his car on a Fort Lauderdale street. Other witnesses testified that the killer was mob hit man John "J.J." Gurino, who they said was brought in by Moscatiello for the job.
Moscatiello, 75, is also charged with murder but was granted a mistrial earlier this month when his attorney became ill. Prosecutors intend to retry Moscatiello, and he too could get the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty.
The jury, which has been sequestered since testimony began Sept. 30, finished deliberating Thursday about 6 p.m. They'll reconvene at 9 a.m. Friday.
Rossman said the evidence showed that the new operator of SunCruz, businessman Adam Kidan, brought Moscatiello into the business because of the protection and connections his purported Gambino ties afforded. Ferrari had been telling people he was the main Gambino contact in South Florida, according to trial testimony.
Ultimately, Rossman said, the decision to involve Moscatiello, and by extension Ferrari, led to Boulis' death.
"Gus Boulis was killed because Adam Kidan reached out to Anthony Moscatiello," Rossman told jurors.
Kidan was not charged in the Boulis slaying, testifying in the trial he had nothing to do with it and that the two Tonys confessed to him separately. Kidan and his former SunCruz partner, ex-Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, both served federal prison time for fraud in the $147.5 million SunCruz purchase.
Boulis, 51 when he died, had risen to prominence years earlier by founding the successful Miami Subs restaurant chain before turning to the SunCruz business. The U.S. government was forcing him to sell because, as a Greek immigrant without U.S. citizenship, he could not legally sail the ships under the U.S. flag.
Testifying in his own defense, Ferrari denied involvement in Boulis' death and blamed Kidan. He claimed that a former defendant in the case, James Fiorillo, confessed to him that he actually shot Boulis to death, not the hit man.
That discrepancy is one of many inconsistencies in the case that should lead jurors to acquit Ferrari, his attorney Christopher Grillo said in a closing argument.
"Again I ask you, who is the shooter? Shouldn't we at least know that? Shouldn't they be required to prove Mr. Ferrari's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by saying who shot Mr. Boulis?" Grillo said.
Fiorillo, who did odd jobs and errands for Ferrari, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy earlier and testified against Ferrari and Moscatiello. He said he did not kill Boulis but was involved in the plot, including throwing the murder weapon off a bridge and getting rid of the car the killer used.
Another convicted killer testified that Ferrari offered him money to kill Fiorillo and two others who knew about the plot, but he didn't go through with it because Moscatiello and Ferrari "didn't have their act together." Gurino, the alleged hit man, was later shot to death in a dispute with a Boca Raton deli owner who is now in prison.
Yet another admitted mob killer, Nick DiMaggio — permitted to testify under a fake name — testified that Moscatiello offered him $100,000 to kill Boulis but he refused because under his moral code murder was only permissible for "principle" and not money.