Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The New York Mob's Florida Operations On Trial

With a mix of swagger and candor, the witness airily acknowledged committing a fistful of felonies years ago as a member of New York’s Gambino crime family.

Anthony Ferrari, left, and Anthony Moscatiello are accused of orchestrating the murder of a rival.

Peter Zuccaro, an admitted mob killer, says he refused to carry out the killing.

“When I was in that life, I was in it thoroughly,” the burly 57-year-old mob enforcer told jurors last week in Broward County Circuit Court. “I was no good. I was a killer. I was a drug dealer. I was a hijacker. I beat people half to death. I did a lot of bad things — very bad things.”

Identified in court by the alias Nick DiMaggio, the witness was in fact Peter "Bud" Zuccaro, a seven-time convict from the Howard Beach section of Queens, who under a deal with prosecutors has turned against former Gambino associates in several trials. He testified against one of two defendants accused of orchestrating the murder here in 2001 of a sandwich-shop mogul and casino owner, Konstantinos (Gus) Boulis, a business associate of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced former Washington lobbyist.

The trial of Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who prosecutors say arranged Mr. Boulis’s killing to end a dispute over his gambling interests, vividly illustrates the close connections between mob operatives and their endeavors in Florida, New York and elsewhere. Florida has had a heavy mob presence since the days when Al Capone bought a mansion on Palm Island in Miami in 1928.

Rife with details of internecine mob warfare, the trial has also included references to Mr. Abramoff, whose botched $147 million deal to buy Mr. Boulis’s SunCruz Casinos led in part to his incarceration in 2006. Mr. Abramoff, who was convicted of defrauding lenders in the deal but was not thought by prosecutors to have had a hand in the Boulis murder, is expected to testify soon from his lawyer’s office in Washington.

After years of delays, the trial began last month and could last several more weeks. But it almost fell apart Thursday when Mr. Moscatiello’s lawyer, David Bogenschutz, withdrew because of illness. Judge Ilona M. Holmes declared a mistrial for Mr. Moscatiello, 75, who is free on bail and will be tried later. The current trial will continue for Mr. Ferrari, 56, Mr. Moscatiello’s underling, who prosecutors say tried to persuade one of his bodyguards to kill Mr. Boulis and whom a witness described as having been near the shooting site. Mr. Ferrari remains in custody.

On Friday, Mr. Abramoff’s business partner in the casinos deal, Adam Kidan, testified that shortly after Mr. Boulis was shot outside his office here on Feb. 6, 2001, Mr. Ferrari admitted to him that he had been involved. Then came a warning: “If you ever tell anyone about what happened, I will kill you and I’ll kill your family,” Mr. Kidan said the defendant told him, according to The Associated Press.

In his testimony earlier in the week, Mr. Zuccaro said he went to Mr. Moscatiello’s home in Howard Beach in 2000 to discuss another matter when, “out of the blue,” Mr. Moscatiello asked him to go to Florida “to kill Gus Boulis” for $100,000.

“The guy was making a lot of problems with the gambling situation in Florida,” he went on, referring to Mr. Boulis, whose customers played roulette, blackjack and other diversions on ships offshore. “The guy needed to be taken care of right away.”

Payment for the killing, Mr. Zuccaro said he was told, was to be provided by Mr. Kidan, who had made millions with Dial-a-Mattress and who witnesses said had gotten into a physical altercation with Mr. Boulis as the casino deal went sour. Mr. Kidan was not charged in the killing but served prison time for his role in the fraud.

Mr. Zuccaro said that he told Mr. Moscatiello he would get back to him about the killing, but that he ultimately decided the proposal had been “insulting.”

“You didn’t kill people for money,” he said. “If it was principle, you killed them. If you killed people for money, it was cursed. I didn’t kill people for money. Principle, yes. Money, no.”

So he told Mr. Moscatiello he “wanted nothing to do with it,” Mr. Zuccaro recalled, and Mr. Boulis was murdered by someone else “maybe a couple of months later.” Mr. Zuccaro added that the next time he ran into Mr. Moscatiello, the older man told him, “I took care of that.”

Mr. Boulis, 51, died when his BMW was ambushed by gunmen in two other cars and he was struck by three bullets. Born in Greece, he was a self-made millionaire who had begun his working life as a fisherman. In 1980, he founded the Miami Subs Grill restaurant chain. Later, he bought a fleet of yachts and transformed them into floating gambling halls.

In cross-examining Mr. Zuccaro, Mr. Bogenschutz tried to paint him as anything but principled, prompting him to enunciate every crime he had admitted to but had been allowed to “take a walk” on as part of his plea arrangement in 2006. He served about eight years in prison.

The triggerman in Mr. Boulis’s killing is thought to have been another Queens mobster, John Gurino, who was himself gunned down in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2003. Mr. Zuccaro described him as his best friend, and readily conceded in court that he had felt a “really bad” urge to execute Ralph Liotta, who was convicted of manslaughter in Mr. Gurino’s death and is serving a 12-year term.

“I didn’t get to kill him,” Mr. Zuccaro said.

“Oh, too bad,” Mr. Bogenschutz replied. “Does that rankle a bit?”

“Yeah,” came the answer.



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