FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A jury began deliberations Monday afternoon in the trial of reputed mobster Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, accused of ordering the killing of a South Florida businessman in 2001.
Moscatiello, 77, could get the death penalty if convicted of the charge in connection to the slaying of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, founder of both the 11-ship SunCruz Casinos fleet and Miami Subs restaurants.
Prosecutors say Boulis was killed during a power struggle over the fleet. Sequestered jurors began deliberations following a two-week trial, then adjourned for the day shortly afterward. They will resume deliberations Tuesday.
A mistrial was declared for Moscatiello in 2013 after his attorney became ill, but Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
During closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Gregg Rossman said Moscatiello, a purported member of New York's Gambino crime family, orchestrated the Feb. 6, 2001 killing to prevent Boulis from retaking control of SunCruz after selling it. Moscatiello and Ferrari had consulting and security contracts with the new owners worth thousands of dollars a month.
"You put all the evidence together, it all comes back to Tony Moscatiello," Rossman said. "He's the person everybody answers to. The plan was put in place by him, and he needs to be held accountable."
Boulis, 51, was shot by a mob hit man as he sat in his car on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street, police have said. Witnesses testified that he was blocked in by cars in the front and back and then shot to death by the hit man, John "J.J." Gurino, who allegedly pulled up in another car. Gurino himself was shot to death in 2003 in an unrelated dispute with a Boca Raton delicatessen owner.
Prosecutors say evidence shows that the night of the shooting, Ferrari called Moscatiello, who was in New York at the time, and told him, "It looks like our boy had an accident." Authorities had not yet released Boulis' name as the victim when that call was made.
Moscatiello attorney Kenneth Malnik told jurors that Ferrari and one of the new SunCruz owners, Adam Kidan, were the true conspirators in the killing. Malnik said Kidan had become fearful that Boulis may have underworld connections and might use them to violently end their escalating business dispute.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, the threat Mr. Boulis poses is an 11. Kidan believes that there's a bulls-eye on his head," Malnik said. ""I submit that Mr. Ferrari and Mr. Kidan hatched this plan together."
Kidan was never charged in the slaying and testified against both Moscatiello and Ferrari. No evidence has surfaced that Boulis was involved with organized crime.
Kidan and his former partner, onetime Washington powerhouse lobbyist Jack 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 and was not implicated in the Boulis case, 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 and testified against Ferrari and Moscatiello. He will likely be sentenced to the six-plus years he has already spent in jail.
Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt