Anthony Ferrari insists he’s not a mobster.
He claims he’s not a killer, or a member of what he called “Murder Incorporated.’’
Ferrari, aka “Little Tony,’’ took the witness stand in his own defense Wednesday — against his attorney’s advice — and narrated a rambling account of his dealings with a cast of shady characters that he claims were the actual people who killed Gus Boulis, the former owner of Miami Subs and SunCruz, a fleet of casino gambling ships.
Ferrari insisted that, before he was arrested for Boulis’ murder eight years ago, he was just an unassuming entrepreneur who ran a security company and was happily married with two children and a dog.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
He testified that he would never hire anyone to kill anybody, especially not Gus Boulis, whom he described as “a helluva good guy.’’
But he admitted he didn’t know anything about the security business. Nor did he know that his “friend,” Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, was a reputed captain of the Gambino crime family and former confidante of the late boss John Gotti, he said.
Despite his admitted lack of commercial-security acumen, he said he lived well, traveled back and forth to New York on business and owned five Mercedes, a Jaguar, two Range Rovers, a Ferrari and two red Volkswagens. He said he stored his fleet on the ground floor garage of a Miami Beach office building where he rented a block of offices for more than $13,000 a month.
Ferrari claimed that the Feb. 6, 2001, hit was masterminded by New York businessman Adam Kidan, who had partnered with now-disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff to purchase Boulis’ lucrative floating casino company. He said Kidan was frustrated with Boulis and told him: “Those [bleeping] Greeks! I can’t deal with them.’’
Kidan then allegedly had listening devices installed in Boulis’ offices to spy on him and family members who worked for the company, Ferrari said.
“Adam Kidan paid for that bullet that killed Gus Boulis,’’ Ferrari said.
But prosecutors say it was Moscatiello and Ferrari who orchestrated the job, which was allegedly carried out by henchmen James “Pudgy” Fiorillo, who was the lookout, and triggerman John “J.J.” Gurino, who was killed in an unrelated mob slaying in Boca Raton in 2003. A mistrial was declared last week for Moscatiello, who was charged along with Ferrari with the murder. His attorney, David Bogenshutz, was too ill to continue. Moscatiello will be tried at a later date.
Ferrari proclaimed to Broward County Judge Ilona Holmes that he had been waiting eight years to tell his story. Ferrari said no one — including his own attorney — was going to stop him from testifying in in the capital murder case.
“It’s my life that’s on the line here,’’ the pale and wiry Ferrari told Holmes, just before placing his hand on a Bible and swearing to tell the truth.
Christopher Grillo, his longtime attorney, risked being held in contempt for refusing to question his client, saying he wanted more time to prepare Ferrari.
“I just can’t do it your honor,’’ Grillo said. “It’s professional misconduct.’’
But the judge, mindful that the jury has been sequestered for three weeks, told Grillo that the case has been in the courts far too long.
“You’ve had eight years to prepare, Mr. Grillo,’’ Holmes said..
Holmes told Grillo that it was Ferrari’s constitutional right to take the stand — and Grillo had no right to prevent him from doing so — unless he believed his client’s testimony would be untruthful. Grillo, obviously uncomfortable, tried several times without success to delay proceedings.
Ferrari was Grillo’s only witness. Closing statements are scheduled to begin Thursday.
David Weinstein, a Miami criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said Grillo’s actions indicated that he was worried that his client was going to commit perjury.
“The lawyer was put between a rock and a hard place,’’ Weinstein said. “His client was demanding to testify and the lawyer had a reasonable belief that his client would testify falsely. He can’t announce this in open court because it would violate attorney-client privilege.’’
Ferrari, at times combatant, told jurors that just hours after Boulis was shot, Fiorillo appeared on his doorstep and told him what he had done. Ferrari claimed he was home all day and evening with his baby daughter.
“He was hysterical, crying...he said ‘I just killed a man,’ and I said ‘who?’ and he said ‘Gus Boulis.’ I said ‘why, James? Why?’ ’’
He claimed he didn’t want to turn his friend in because Fiorillo had once saved his life.
“I owed him,’’ Ferrari explained.
He didn’t offer up a motive for the killing.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Greg Rossman tried to tear apart Ferrari, grilling him about the witnesses who testified earlier that he was in the thick of the plot. During much of their verbal sparring, Grillo watched in distress, at one point putting his head in his hands. Rossman pointed out that Ferrari’s real last name was Ferer and suggested that Ferrari changed it to a name that sounded more Italian, so he could better fit in with the Gambino family.
Ferrari angrily denied Rossman’s contention that he ran the Gambino crime operation in South Florida.
“We didn’t have a company that said ‘murder incorporated,’ on our checks and credit cards,’’ Ferrari said.
Fiorillo, who was also arrested for the murder, cut a deal with prosecutors, testifying last week that he alerted Ferrari by cell phone when Boulis left his office that night. He was also among three witnesses who claimed that Ferrari tried to hire him to do the hit. Two others, Dwayne Nicholson, and mob-enforcer-turned-government witness Peter “Bud” Zuccaro, said they too were offered tidy sums to do the hit, but declined. Zuccaro, who is in the federal witness protection program, testified under an assumed name, “Nick DiMaggio.’’
Kidan testified last week that Ferrari told him that he had Boulis killed to protect a stream of money that was going to the mob from the casino business. Checks show Kidan paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ferrari before and after the murder, but both Kidan and Ferrari claimed the payments were for security services.
Abramoff, who served jail time for corruption and fraud, was to be called to testify for the defense, but did not show up to take the stand. Grillo indicated that Abramoff wanted two $100/per-hour lawyers to accompany him from Washington, D.C., to Fort Lauderdale to testify. Holmes scoffed when Grillo suggested that Abramoff could testify via Skype, saying that Abramoff doesn’t warrant special treatment and should show up like any other witness.
Abramoff was sentenced in 2006 to three years in federal prison for corruption, money laundering and fraud but was released after three years after he agreed, like Kidan, to cooperate with investigators probing Washington corruption and Florida investigators working the Boulis murder.