Broward County

‘Big Tony’ mistrial is latest twist in Gus Boulis saga

Adam Kidan is a man lucky to be alive.

He has survived at least two violent brushes with death, and over the past dozen or so years plenty of people have wanted to make sure he kept his mouth shut.

The former mattress salesman once rubbed elbows with gangsters, partnered with one of the most corrupt lobbyists in Washington, was stabbed in the neck in a business dispute, and later beaten up by three men in a prison bathroom.

One reputed mobster allegedly told him that if he didn’t keep quiet his whole family would be whacked.

On Friday, Kidan enters center stage in the trial of two alleged New York gangsters charged with arranging the murder of South Florida businessman Gus Boulis, owner of the Miami Subs chain and operator of a fleet of gambling boats. Only the two alleged gangsters on trial have been winnowed to one. On Thursday, Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes declared a mistrial for defendant Anthony Moscatiello, aka “Big Tony.’’

Moscatiello’s lawyer, high-powered defense attorney David Bogenshutz, was too ill to continue representing his client. So the judge severed Moscatiello from the case, meaning that he will get a new trial.

But the capital murder case will grind on against the other defendant, Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari, who is accused of arranging Boulis’ Feb. 6, 2001, gangland-style killing.

Kidan had known Moscatiello for years from Queens, N.Y., where they grew up. Moscatiello and a number of other Gambino crime family members used to frequent Kidan’s bagel shop before he went out of business.

To call Kidan a snitch is an understatement. Actor/comedian Jon Lovitz, who played him in the movie Casino Jack, portrayed him as a greedy, lying, cold-blooded sleazebag. Founder of the Washington,D.C.-based Dial-A-Mattress, Kidan was a wheeler-dealer who hawked mattresses in TV commercials and launched a number of other failed businesses in hopes of getting rich.

Chris Grillo, Ferrari’s defense attorney, will try to show that the convicted swindler had a lot more to do with — and to gain from — Boulis’ death than he has been willing to admit.

Born in New York, Kidan went to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he joined the Young Republicans and became friends with the conservative group’s national chairman, Jack Abramoff. Abramoff went on to become one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, while Kidan took a different path in hopes of getting rich. After graduation, he returned to New York, took classes at law school and dabbled in politics before starting his bagel business.

There, he met Moscatiello, a confidante of and bookkeeper for the late crime boss John Gotti. It was an interesting alliance, since Kidan’s own mother was killed when a violent mob crew burglarized her house.

His stepfather made money running a chain of sex shops.

Kidan had been set to testify against Moscatiello and his alleged mob underling, Ferrari.

With Thursday’s mistrial, testimony will be steered toward Ferrari’s role in the murder. Prior witnesses have said that Ferrari, who was hired to provide security for Kidan, was directly involved in the slaying. A mob informant testified earlier this week that Moscatiello offered him $100,000 to kill Boulis, the 51-year-old Miami Subs owner. The witness, an admitted killer now in witness protection, said Moscatiello told him that it was Kidan who was putting up the money for the hit.

Prosecutors allege that the witness, who uses the fake name “Nick DiMaggio” to protect his identity, turned down the job and that Moscatiello then hired DiMaggio’s best friend, John “J.J.’’ Gurino, to gun Boulis down.

Gurino, who was killed in a mob-related murder in 2003, never told DiMaggio he was responsible for the hit.

Kidan was engaged in a bitter feud with Boulis over control of SunCruz, a fleet of gambling boats that Boulis had sold to Kidan and Abramoff. The buyers, however, reneged on their payments, infuriating Boulis. At one point Boulis stabbed Kidan in the neck with a pen during a meeting, prompting Kidan to take out a restraining order and hire Ferrari to protect him and the fleet.

After Boulis’ slaying, authorities focused on the SunCruz deal and soon learned that Kidan and Abramoff had defrauded lenders out of $60 million. Kidan was sentenced to 70 months in prison, but served only half that time because of his cooperation with the Boulis case — as well as his cooperation with federal authorities probing Abramoff’s political dealings. It was during that prison stay that he was attacked by the three fellow inmates.

Kidan’s testimony against his former business partner led Abramoff to blow the whistle on widespread corruption in Washington. His testimony eventually led to convictions of 21 people, including congressional aids, lobbyists and U.S. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio. Abramoff, who is also scheduled to testify, was sentenced to six years in prison, but was released after serving 43 months. He subsequently wrote a book about Washington corruption and is a sometimes television commentator.