Florida jury convicts 'Big Tony' in 2001 businessman murder

AP News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2015 3:37 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Reputed mobster Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in the 2001 slaying of a prominent South Florida businessman during an acrimonious power struggle over a lucrative fleet of gambling ships.

The jury also found Moscatiello, 77, guilty of murder conspiracy in the shooting death of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, founder of SunCruz Casinos and, earlier, the Miami Subs restaurant chain. Evidence showed Boulis was killed by a mob hit man, and Moscatiello was accused of ordering the slaying. He faces a possible sentence of death or life in prison when sentencing Sept. 16 by Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes.  

Moscatiello's wife, Marion, fainted after the verdict was read after yelling out that someone else was responsible for the Boulis murder. She was treated by paramedics and taken to a hospital.

A mistrial was declared for Moscatiello in 2013 because his attorney became ill. Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who handled South Florida matters for Moscatiello, was convicted in that trial and sentenced to life in prison.

Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh said verdict in the Moscatiello case, which is the oldest pending prosecution in Broward County, was evidence that justice can prevail even after many years.

"You can never bring a murder victim back, but you can see that justice is done," Cavanagh said. "Justice has happened."

Prosecutors said Moscatiello was a member of New York's Gambino crime family when he issued the fateful order for a hit. Moscatiello did not testify in his own defense, but his lawyers insisted Ferrari and others were to blame for the Feb. 6, 2001, slaying.

At the time, Boulis, 51, was trying to retake control of SunCruz after selling it to businessman Adam Kidan and his partner, former Washington powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Kidan paid Moscatiello and Ferrari thousands of dollars a month to handle security and other issues — including, prosecutors said, the use of Moscatiello's alleged mob ties for protection.

"The evidence all leads to Anthony Moscatiello," said Assistant State Attorney Gregg Rossman.

Key evidence included phone calls from Ferrari to Moscatiello, who was in New York, shortly after Boulis was fatally shot by a gunman who pulled up next to his car as he left his office. Other organized crime figures and a former Ferrari associate testified that Moscatiello approached them initially about getting rid of Boulis before hiring hit man John "J.J." Gurino to do the deed.

Gurino was slain in an unrelated 2003 dispute with a Boca Raton delicatessen owner.

Moscatiello attorney Kenneth Malnik told jurors the evidence pointed more toward Kidan, who had several clashes with Boulis, and Ferrari employee James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, who admitted to conducting surveillance of Boulis and disposing of the murder weapon in Miami's Biscayne Bay.

After the verdict Wednesday, Malnik said he and the Moscatiello family would now focus on persuading jurors and Holmes to spare his life at the September sentencing hearing. The only other option is life behind bars.

"This man has led a much different life than what has been portrayed," Malnik said. "I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed right now."

Kidan, who previously ran the Dial-A-Mattress chain, has never been charged in the Boulis case and testified in both trials. Fiorillo pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and will likely be sentenced to the six-plus years he already served in exchange for his testimony. He has denied being the shooter.

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 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

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