FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An admitted conspirator in the 2001 slaying of a prominent South Florida businessman described Tuesday how he conducted surveillance before the mob-style hit and later helped dispose of a handgun and car used in the crime.
James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, 34, did not witness the Feb. 6, 2001 killing of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, founder of the Miami Subs restaurant chain and onetime owner of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. But Fiorillo said he was deeply involved in the plot and its aftermath, including a phone call made the night of the killing by suspect Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari after the two watched a television newscast.
"He described the events of what happened, on the TV, on the news. He mentioned to the person on the phone that it was Gus Boulis," Fiorillo said, then quoted Ferrari as saying: "It looks like our boy Boulis had an accident."
Boulis, 51, was shot to death at the wheel of his green BMW sedan on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street by an assailant who pulled alongside in another car, while other vehicles blocked Boulis in. Prosecutors say a third suspect, 73-year-old Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, ordered the hit so he could continue making money from the SunCruz fleet that Boulis had sold the year before.
The buyers were disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and partner Adam Kidan, both of whom later pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the $147.5 million deal and went to prison. Abramoff also served prison time for bribery and corruption of public officials; Kidan is also a witness in the Boulis murder case and it's possible Abramoff could be called.
Fiorillo pleaded guilty last month to murder conspiracy charges in exchange for no additional time in prison beyond the six years he's already been jailed awaiting trial. But if he fails to testify truthfully, prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said, Fiorillo could get 30 years.
After the slaying, Fiorillo said, he took a black Ford Mustang that prosecutors say was used in the crime to a body shop, where he found a shell casing on the floor in the back when cleaning it out. Fiorillo said he tossed the murder weapon, a .380-caliber handgun in a brown paper bag, into a South Florida river.
Moscatiello and Ferrari have both pleaded not guilty and could get the death penalty if convicted. The hearing Tuesday is on a prosecution motion to revoke Moscatiello's $500,000 bail based on new evidence provided by Fiorillo. The hearing is expected to continue into Wednesday, and it's not clear when Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes will rule.
In his testimony, Fiorillo did not point to a direct conversation or other evidence linking Moscatiello directly to the Boulis slaying. Instead, he mentioned how other people alluded to or mentioned Moscatiello's alleged involvement, and one time when Moscatiello appeared troubled during a lunch meeting about Fiorillo's deep involvement.
"I explained to him my recollection of what happened, what transpired. He was a little upset and agitated, I guess because I knew too much," Fiorillo said.
Fiorillo also described an episode in which he was ordered to stay at a hotel near Moscatiello's home in Yonkers, N.Y., and was joined for a few days by another man he had never met before. Later, a friend told Fiorillo that man had intended to kill Fiorillo, but did not go through with it. Fiorillo said he confirmed that face to face with the would-be killer.
"'They didn't want you around any more. They wanted you dead,'" Fiorillo quoted the man as saying. Fiorillo is being housed at an undisclosed location for his own safety.
Police have previously said Moscatiello has ties to New York's Gambino crime family and was close to its former top boss, John Gotti. Joseph Marley, a limousine driver for people he described as "wise guys," testified Tuesday that he frequently saw Moscatiello with Gotti and other senior bosses.
"Everybody's from that neighborhood. I was around a lot of guys," Marley said. "He (Moscatiello) ran with a higher echelon of people."
Marley also said he knew the man believed to have killed Boulis, John Gurino, who himself was later shot and killed in a confrontation with the owner of a Boca Raton delicatessen. Marley said he met Gurino after the Boulis slaying at a South Florida casino and asked whether Gurino was involved.
"He looked at me like this, a smirk. I took it as, `yeah,'" Marley said. "I says, `what were you doing, shaking him down?' He said, `something like that. I got the work from Moscatiello.'"
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