Brian Cavanaugh, a prosecutor in Ft. Lauderdale,
said late Friday that his office is making arrangements to interview
Abramoff and two of his associates, Michael Scanlon and Adam Kidan, as
potential witnesses in the 2001 murder of Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis, who
had sold the SunCruz casino line to Abramoff and Kidan.
Boulis was slain while sitting in his car on Feb.
6, 2001, amid a feud with the Abramoff-Kidan group. On Sept. 27, 2005,
Fort Lauderdale police charged three men, including reputed Gambino
crime family bookkeeper Anthony Moscatiello, with Boulis’s murder.
As part of the murder probe, police are
investigating payments that SunCruz made to Moscatiello, his daughter
and Anthony Ferrari, another defendant in the Boulis murder case.
Moscatiello and Ferrari allegedly collaborated with a third man, James
Fiorillo, in the slaying.
Abramoff and Kidan recently have pleaded guilty to
fraud charges from the SunCruz purchase, which led to a bitter
falling-out with Boulis. But lawyers for Abramoff and Kidan have said
their clients know nothing about the murder.
While the prosecutors in the Boulis case were not
involved in the plea bargaining that led to Abramoff’s guilty pleas in
Washington and Miami this past week, Cavanaugh’s office does stand to
benefit because the plea deals require cooperation with prosecutors on
Cavanaugh said Abramoff – as well as Kidan and
Scanlon, who also have entered guilty pleas on fraud charges – will be
questioned in the next couple of weeks about what they might know
regarding Boulis’s murder.
As for how useful that information will be,
Cavanaugh said, “It depends on whether we believe them or not. All these
guys come with baggage.”
Prosecutors alleged that in arranging the SunCruz
deal, Abramoff and Kidan made a phony $23 million wire transfer as a
fake down payment. In pursuing the casino deal, the Abramoff-Kidan group
got help, too, from then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and
Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio.
Abramoff impressed one lender by putting him
together with DeLay in Abramoff’s skybox at FedEx Field during a
football game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.
Ney placed comments in the Congressional Record criticizing Boulis and
later praising the new Abramoff-Kidan SunCruz ownership team.
[Washington Post, Sept. 28, 2005]
After the SunCruz sale, when tensions boiled over,
Boulis and Kidan got into a fistfight. Kidan claimed that Boulis
threatened his life. Two months later, however, Boulis was the one who
was shot to death when a car pulled up next to him and a gunman opened
Police have been investigating financial ties
between the Abramoff-Kidan group and accused killers Moscatiello and
In a 2001 civil case, Kidan testified that he had
paid $145,000 to Moscatiello and his daughter, Jennifer, for catering
and other services, although court records show no evidence that
quantities of food or drink were provided. SunCruz also paid Ferrari’s
company, Moon Over Miami, $95,000 for surveillance services.
Kidan told the Miami Herald that the payments had
no connection to the Boulis murder. “If I’m going to pay to have Gus
killed, am I going to be writing checks to the killers?” Kidan asked. “I
don’t think so. Why would I leave a paper trail?”
Kidan also said he was ignorant of Moscatiello’s
past. In 1983, Moscatiello was indicted on heroin-trafficking charges
along with Gene Gotti, brother of Gambino crime boss John Gotti. Though
Gene Gotti and others were convicted, the charges against Moscatiello –
identified by federal authorities as a former Gambino bookkeeper – were
reached into George W. Bush’s White House, too, where chief procurement
officer David H. Safavian resigned in September 2005 and then was
arrested on charges of lying to authorities and obstructing a criminal
investigation into Abramoff’s lobbying activities.
Rep. Ney and former
Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed were among influential Republicans
who joined Safavian and Abramoff on an infamous golf trip to Scotland in
2002. Safavian is a former lobbying partner of anti-tax activist Grover
Norquist, another pillar of right-wing politics in Washington and
another longtime Abramoff friend. [Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2005]
Abramoff also has boasted of his influence with
Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove. [For more background on Abramoff,
see Consortiumnews.com's "How
Rotten Are These Guys?"]