consortiumnews.com

Hauling in the Abramoff Crowd

By Richard Fricker
January 7, 2006

Most of the buzz around the Jack Abramoff case has been which members of Congress might get fingered by the Republican lobbyist in a Washington bribery scandal. But Abramoff and his associates also must worry about demands for their testimony in a gangland-style murder of a business rival in Florida.

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.

Plea Deals

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 all cases.

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 fire.

Police have been investigating financial ties between the Abramoff-Kidan group and accused killers Moscatiello and Ferrari.

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 dropped.

Abramoff’s influence 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?"]



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