Witness recounts plot to kill tycoon - Monday 28th of November 2005

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas five years ago, the plan to kill tycoon Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis unfolded inside a shiny, black Mercedes-Benz -- if the states star witness is to be believed. From the backseat, Dwayne Lavade Nicholson listened as the man for whom he had been doing bodyguard work, Anthony Ferrari, spoke with another man about a troublesome situation, according to court records made public last week.

The other man was Anthony Moscatiello, an associate of New York City mob boss John Gotti and his Gambino crime family, Nicholson said.

The conversation, relayed by Nicholson to Fort Lauderdale police detectives three days after Boulis slaying, discussed the escalating business dispute between Boulis and the men who bought his SunCruz Casino business. Moscatiello told Ferrari he had to "take care of this situation desperately," according to court documents.

Nicholson said he also heard Moscatiello say, "If they go to court, theyre going to lose everything, and they cant afford to lose everything."

The two men stopped talking and Moscatiello turned to Ferrari and asked, "What about him?" referring to Nicholson.

"I trust him totally," Ferrari said, according to Nicholson.

Nicholson said Moscatiello followed suit, " Well, Ill trust you because I trust him [Ferrari]. Id put my life in his hands. Id put my familys life in his hands. So if he says youre OK, then I have no other choice but to take his word for it that youre OK. Now Im going to put my life in your hands. I need Gus killed. "

The bodyguard later told detectives he sat dumbfounded in the backseat and didnt dare say a word.

That exchange is included in documents made public Wednesday that will be used in the high-profile murder prosecution. Among those records, Nicholson stands out as the witness who will be relied on the most in the cases against Moscatiello, 67, Ferrari, 48, and James Fiorillo, 28.

The three men have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges.

Statements Nicholson made to detectives in three interviews seem to bolster the state attorneys case. But three other interviews, ones in which Nicholson was hooked up to a lie detector, raise questions about his involvement.

Boulis, 51, was driving on Miami Boulevard on the night of Feb. 6, 2001, when a car swerved in front of his BMW and slammed on the brakes. After Boulis stopped short, a black Mustang traveling in the opposite direction pulled alongside and its driver fired several shots into Boulis car. Boulis drove off before crashing into a tree.

Detectives were soon looking at New York businessman Adam Kidan because of his contentious relationship with Boulis, founder of the Miami Subs restaurant chain and the Dania Beach-based SunCruz gambling ships.

In September 2000, Boulis sold a 90 percent share in SunCruz to Kidan, 41, and his partners for $147 milllion. The deal quickly soured, and the men sued each other. Kidan eventually obtained a restraining order against Boulis, saying Boulis threatened and stabbed him with a pen.

Kidan hasnt been named as a suspect in Boulis slaying. But he and one of his partners, powerful Washington, D.C., lobbyist Jack Abramoff, are under indictment on accusations that they fraudulently obtained a loan connected with the business sale.

In his initial Feb. 9, 2001, statement to police, Nicholson said Ferrari told him the bad blood between Boulis and Kidan stemmed from Kidans reneging on a side deal in which he was supposed to pay Boulis $10 million "under the table."

Robert LaRusso, Kidans attorney, would not comment Friday on Nicholsons allegation of such a deal, but said Kidan had "nothing to do, whatsoever, with the hiring of someone to cause Mr. Boulis death."

Nicholson said he met Ferrari at The Livingroom, a Miami Beach club, in 1998 and subsequently worked as a bodyguard for him. By November 2000, Ferrari offered Nicholson the security contract at SunCruz after Kidan, a former golfing buddy of Ferraris, had bought the gambling ship.

Before Thanksgiving of that year, Ferrari and Nicholson drove to Fort Lauderdale airport to pick up Ferraris boss, Moscatiello, to discuss the security contract. Moscatiello arrived on a private jet with Kidan, Nicholson told detectives.

A few days later, Ferrari called Nicholson to the Miami Beach office of Moon Over Miami Beach, which is described in records as a catering and security business. There, according to court records, Ferrari told Nicholson that Kidan was having trouble with his "ex-partner."

"He didnt say he wanted him killed," Nicholson told detectives during a second interview in May 2001. "He said he wanted him taken out . . . and he didnt mean dinner."

Ferrari asked Nicholson if he would do it, and Nicholson said he declined. A few days later, Nicholson and Ferrari picked up Moscatiello, who then talked about the need to kill Boulis, Nicholson told police. The ride in the Mercedes ended, he said, with Ferrari promising: "This is my turf. Ill take care of it."

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