A jury has found Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the 2001 gangland-style slaying of South Florida businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis.
Ferrari, 56, hung his head as the guilty verdict on the first count was announced Friday afternoon. A court officer immediately reached his hands around Ferrari and handcuffed him.
Some members of the Boulis family broke down in tears as the long-running case neared its end. The victim's sister, Mersina Koumoulidis, had to leave the courtroom.
"I'm so happy. I'm so happy," she said afterward.
The 12-person jury returned the verdict after just over seven hours of deliberations, which began Thursday afternoon. Jurors had been sequestered since testimony began Sept. 30.
Ferrari was accused along with Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, 75, of orchestrating the slaying of Boulis, who founded the Miami Subs fast food chain and SunCruz Casinos. Trial testimony showed that the 51-year-old was fatally shot by a mob hit man on the night of Feb. 6, 2001, after the car he was driving was blocked in by another vehicle on a Fort Lauderdale street.
Jury Deliberations Continue in Gus Boulis Murder Trial
The case featured testimony from convicted felons, admitted mob enforcers and professional killers. One of them, former organized crime operative Peter "Bud" Zuccaro, is in the witness protection program and went by the name Nick DiMaggio in court.
The penalty phase of Ferrari's trial is set for Dec. 16. Ferrari could face the death penalty. Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes is not bound by the jury's recommendation on the death penalty, but must give it great legal weight.
Closing Arguments Set in Gus Boulis Murder Trial
Moscatiello was granted a mistrial earlier this month after his attorney became ill, and will face a retrial.
Ferrari, who took the stand on his own behalf against his attorney's wishes, claims he had nothing to do with the mob-style murder of Boulis.
Prosecutors said Ferrari had Boulis killed in order to keep his part ownership of SunCruz Casinos. Boulis had sold the business a few months earlier to businessman Adam Kidan and his partner, once-powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but had kept a 10 percent stake in the lucrative 11-ship fleet and wanted to regain control.
Ferrari said he was at his Miami Beach home when the murder happened.
Kidan testified he contacted Moscatiello, whom he said was a member of New York's Gambino crime family, for protection and for his mob connections. Ferrari, witnesses said, was Moscatiello's main operative in South Florida and even claimed to be related to the infamous Gambino "Teflon Don," John Gotti.
Both Ferrari and Moscatiello had well-paying SunCruz contracts with Kidan in charge, arrangements that Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh said they were willing to kill Boulis to keep.
"This is a case about greed. Muscling in to get their piece of the pie," Cavanagh said in a closing argument. "It's also about no regard for human life."
A third defendant, James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder in Boulis’ death and testified against both Ferrari and Moscatiello.
The actual Boulis hit man, John "J.J." Gurino, was later shot and killed in a dispute with a Boca Raton deli owner. Before that, witnesses said he had bragged about being the "SunCruz Kid" and that he had gotten "the work" from Moscatiello.
Ferrari's attorney, Christopher Grillo, urged jurors to consider the checkered pasts of many witnesses and what they had to gain by testifying for the state, such as reduced prison terms.
"The state wants you to believe a bunch of drug dealers, killers and thieves," Grillo told jurors.
But Cavanagh had a ready reply: "Plots hatched in hell don't have angels for witnesses."
Ferrari claimed that Fiorillo had confessed to Boulis' murder and that Kidan was the one behind the plot. Fiorillo testified that his main role was surveillance and getting rid of the murder weapon, and Kidan said Ferrari and Moscatiello confessed the plot to him.
“It’s gratifying to think that over a seemingly endless process that the jury can see through everything that was there,” prosecutor Gregg Rossman said after the verdict.
Zuccaro, who testified under a deal with federal prosecutors, said that Moscatiello offered him $100,000 to kill Boulis, but he refused.
Kidan and Abramoff both did federal prison time after pleading guilty to fraud in the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz from Boulis. Abramoff, who did not testify in the Boulis case, was the main figure in a separate Washington influence-peddling case that resulted in charges against 21 people on corruption charges.
SunCruz went bankrupt in the wake of the slaying of Boulis, a Greek immigrant who worked his way up from dishwasher to founding the successful Miami Subs restaurant chain.
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