FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Reputed mobster Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello ordered a prominent Florida businessman killed by a hit man in 2001 during a bitter power struggle over a fleet of lucrative gambling ships, a prosecutor told jurors Monday in Moscatiello's murder retrial.
Moscatiello, who authorities say is a member of New York's Gambino crime family once headed by John Gotti, wanted to ensure that Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis didn't regain control of SunCruz Casinos and potentially oust him from the flow of money, Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh said in an opening statement.
Moscatiello and a Miami Beach-based cohort, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, were being paid by the new SunCruz owners for security and consulting after Boulis had sold all but a small share of the business. Just before the Feb. 6, 2001, shooting, Boulis was suing in court to regain complete control, Cavanagh said.
"Greed, greed, greed is why they killed a human being. Out of greed," Cavanagh said, his voice rising. "They weren't going to let Gus Boulis take back the company. They didn't want to lose the money."
Ferrari was convicted after a 2013 trial and sentenced to life in prison. Moscatiello, 77, was granted a mistrial when his attorney became ill and is now on trial for a second time. He has pleaded not guilty, denies mob connections and could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. He is also charged with murder conspiracy.
Moscatiello attorney Kenneth Malnik sought in his opening statement to shift the blame toward Ferrari, who he described as a gangster wanna-be well known for falsely telling people he was John Gotti's nephew.
"I'm confident that when you hear all the evidence in this case, you're not going to allow Mr. Moscatiello to be a fall guy for a murder he did not commit and a murder he had nothing to do with," Malnik said.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
Boulis, 51, was shot by a mob hit man as he sat in his car on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street. In addition to SunCruz, Boulis had founded and then sold the Miami Subs restaurant chain.
The BMW Boulis was driving was blocked in front and in back at a stop sign, and the killer pulled up next to the car in a black Mustang and started firing. Boulis was able to drive away but crashed and died at a hospital.
Evidence shows that Ferrari later called Moscatiello, who was in New York, and told him, "It looks like our boy had an accident."
The hit man, John "J.J." Gurino, was shot and killed in 2003 in a dispute with a Boca Raton delicatessen owner, who was convicted of manslaughter, Cavanagh said.
The murder occurred during an increasingly acrimonious dispute over SunCruz, which Boulis had sold a few months earlier to businessman Adam Kidan and his partner, once-powerhouse Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Boulis had kept a 10 percent stake in the lucrative 11-ship fleet and wanted to regain control.
Kidan and Abramoff both did federal prison time after pleading guilty to fraud in the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz from Boulis. Abramoff, who did not testify in the previous trial, was the main figure in a separate Washington influence-peddling case that resulted in charges against 21 people on corruption charges.
A third Boulis defendant, James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy charges, testified against Ferrari and will take the stand again against Moscatiello. He will likely be sentenced to the six years he has already spent in jail.
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