A Florida judge has sentenced Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari to life in prison without parole for the 2001 mob-style slaying of a prominent businessman who ran a fleet of gambling ships and founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain.
A jury this week recommended the sentence for the 56-year-old Ferrari in the shooting death of Konstaninos "Gus" Boulis, former chief of the SunCruz Casinos. Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes indicated she would follow that recommendation at Thursday's sentencing, rather than imposing the death penalty.
"I have very little discretion," Holmes said. She did, however, tack on another 30 years for a murder conspiracy conviction.
Ferrari, who testified in his own defense that he did not plot to kill Boulis, said very little at Thursday's brief hearing except to thank Holmes for her time. Boulis' sister, Mersina Boulis, said in a statement read by a prosecutor that Ferrari's conviction and sentence is one step toward recovering "from this tragic loss."
"He is greatly missed every day," her statement said. "He was and is the example of the American dream."
Jurors didn't show much doubt about the prosecutor's claim that the 56-year-old Ferrari committed first-degree murder. The seven women and five men took seven hours to convict Ferrari after a trial that lasted a month and looked like a Hollywood mob movie.
Jury Recommends Life Sentence for "Little Tony"
"The justice system wins and families don't even get their loved one back," prosecutor Gregg Rossman said. "We can't bring those back, but we give them some semblance of solace."
Meanwhile the defense is hoping for a successful appeal.
"It's a never good day when you get a life sentence, but I'm sure Mr. Ferrari will vigorously litigate his appeal and hopefully get a new trial," said Ferrari's attorney Christopher Grillo.
Testimony showed that Ferrari and Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello plotted to have Boulis killed by a mob hit man in a battle for control of the SunCruz fleet. Moscatiello allegedly has ties to the Gambino crime family.
Jury Finds "Little Tony" Guilty in Boulis Murder Case
Boulis, 51, was shot to death as he sat in his car on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street, testimony showed. Both Ferrari and Moscatiello had well-paying contracts with SunCruz under its new owners that were threatened by interference from Boulis, witnesses said.
Before he was killed, Boulis sold the SunCruz fleet to New York businessman Adam Kidan — who knew Moscatiello and sought him out for his purported mob ties — and then-powerhouse Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Kidan and Abramoff later pleaded guilty to fraud in the $147.5 million SunCruz deal and served federal prison time.
Moscatiello got a mistrial when his attorney became ill and will be retried later.