The crime had all the ingredients of a messy mob hit, and the trial, which continues this week, has all the trappings of New York’s mafia underworld: money, power and betrayal.
Only one thing was missing: sex. That changed this past week, when the identity of a mysterious woman surfaced in the murder trial of Miami Subs magnate Gus Boulis. Her name is Pina Diminno, and she was the mistress of Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari, one of two mobsters accused of arranging Boulis’ Feb. 6, 2001, slaying.
Diminno, a hairdresser who now lives in Canada, may have witnessed — and possibly even participated in — the plot to kill Boulis, according to witness testimony.
She has not been charged in the case and has refused to talk to prosecutors. But it was clear that she played a role, based on statements made in open court this past week.
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James “Pudgy” Fiorillo, the prosecution’s star witness, testified last week that he saw Diminno’s Mazda and Ferrari’s red Volkswagen Jetta right before Boulis was shot.
Fiorillo, who was the lookout that night, said in court that he did not see the shooting and did not know who was in the Mazda.
A motorist who witnessed the shooting, however, said he saw the Mazda stop in front of Boulis’ BMW right before a black Mustang pulled up beside him and a gunman opened fire. The witness said the red Jetta sped past after the shooting.
Chief homicide prosecutor Brian Cavanagh declined to elaborate on the testimony, citing a court-imposed gag order prohibiting lawyers from discussing the case.
But Diminno, whom Ferrari had set up in a hairdressing business, fled to Canada with Fiorillo after the murder, Fiorillo said.
Later, Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes said that Diminno is now a Canadian citizen and the country was not willing to produce her as a witness in a death penalty case.
Ferrari’s wife Jessie also figured into court testimony, with defense attorneys trying to suggest that she may have had a romantic relationship with Fiorillo. Fiorillo admitted that he spoke to her almost every day — and sometimes twice a day — during the six years he was in prison awaiting trial.
CLAD IN SUITS
Ferrari is one of two New York gangsters facing possible death sentences on charges they orchestrated Boulis’ murder. Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, the onetime reputed bookkeeper for late crime boss John Gotti, and Ferrari come to court each day clad in crisp suits, accompanied by David Bogenschutz and Christopher Grillo, two of the toughest criminal defense lawyers in South Florida.
A small group of Boulis’ loved ones are in the courtroom most every day as well, patiently waiting for justice.
The trial has presented all sorts of challenges more than 12 years after the murder.
There are witnesses who have been killed, others who have disappeared and some who are too terrified to testify. A few who have taken the stand have been tripped up by failing memories — or, as defense attorneys would like the jury to believe — caught in lies concocted to save their own skins.
For the first time in Broward County in 30 years, a jury has been sequestered for the duration of the trial. The last time Big Tony was on trial he and a slew of other Gambino crime family members were cut loose after the case ended in a mistrial because of jury tampering.
Moscatiello, a bald, rotund 75-year-old onetime caterer who grew up in Queens, has managed to be free on bond since his 2005 arrest, as two of his cronies linked to the hit stewed in jail awaiting trial.
Fiorillo, 35, turned snitch in 2011 and was finally released, while Ferrari remained behind bars, unable to post bond.
Fiorillo worked for Moscatiello and for Ferrari, who ran a security business. He also slept on the couch of Ferrari’s Miami Beach condo. Fiorillo said Ferrari attempted to hire him to kill Boulis but he refused.
The complicated case involves business fraud as well as mob ties. Moscatiello, the alleged mastermind behind the crime, was friends with Adam Kidan, who together with former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, were in the midst of purchasing a casino fleet from Boulis at the time of the murder. Both Kidan and Abramoff were indicted and served jail time in federal prison on wire-fraud charges in connection with the $147.5 million sale of Boulis’ SunCruz business.
Kidan pleaded guilty in late 2005, and his 70-month sentence was cut in half after he began helping state and federal investigators with the Boulis case and the federal fraud case against Abramoff.
Kidan was fighting with Boulis for control of SunCruz when Boulis was killed.
He has previously testified that he hired Moscatiello as a food and beverage consultant, and he paid Ferrari, who owned a security company, to watch the boats and to protect him after Boulis allegedly tried to kill him by stabbing him in the neck with a pen.
Prosecutors contend Moscatiello and Ferrari had Boulis killed without Kidan’s knowledge, then forced Kidan to continue paying protection money.
Moscatiello’s attorney, Bogenschutz, has tried to distance his client from Ferrari, alleging that Ferrari knocked off Boulis without Moscatiello’s knowledge.
Moscatiello, who was a federal snitch at the time of Boulis’ murder, has claimed it was Kidan who ordered the hit.
The alleged gunman, John Gurino — another Gambino crime family associate — was killed in 2003 by a Boca Raton deli owner who said he shot Gurino in self defense after Gurino threatened him.
Thus far, court testimony has shed little light on the relationship between Boulis and the two men on trial for his murder. The only link appears to be Kidan, who met Moscatiello in the early 1990s when he needed some advice about his struggling bagel business in the Hamptons.
Kidan’s life had been touched by organized crime before.
His mother, Judith Shemtov, was murdered in her Staten Island home in 1993 by a crew connected to the Bonanno crime family. The thugs raided the home on a tip that Kidan’s stepfather had $200,000 stashed in the safe.
The trial continues Monday.