Attorneys for the men accused of arranging the murder of Miami Subs founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis went on the offensive Friday, attacking the memory and credibility of a key prosecution witness in the case.
Dwayne Nicholson, a former bodyguard for defendant Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, testified on Wednesday and Thursday that Ferrari and co-defendant Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello recruited him to murder Boulis in November 2000. But Nicholson said he never went through with it.
Moscatiello's lawyer, David Bogenschutz, and Ferrari's lawyer, Christopher Grillo, cross-examined Nicholson all day Friday, poking holes in the story Nicholson told jurors.
The defense lawyers wondered why Nicholson, after being recruited to commit murder, never warned law enforcement about the threat to Boulis, one of South Florida's most prominent businessmen.
Nicholson had already told the jury that he tried to get in touch with an FBI agent he knew from Baltimore, but he said he didn't call local police because he did not know whether they could be trusted.
Nicholson believed Ferrari and Moscatiello had ties to the Gambino crime family in New York, and he told jurors that he had seen police officers from Miami dealing with Ferrari. He said he felt safer trying to contact a law enforcement officer from out of town.
But the FBI agent never returned Nicholson's calls, he said.
Both Bogenschutz and Grillo implied that Nicholson could have and should have done more — if he were telling the truth.
Bogenschutz asked why Nicholson continued to meet Ferrari without police protection after the murder, even after Nicholson had already started providing information to Fort Lauderdale detectives.
Nicholson testified that he got in a car with James "Pudgy" Fiorillo and another man on Memorial Day 2001, nearly three months after the murder, to visit Ferrari at a house in Central Florida. He said he got into the car believing Ferrari was about to have him killed. But Nicholson did not call police.
"Why did you get in the car?" Bogenschutz asked. Nicholson said he felt he had no choice, and he still did not trust the police enough to let anyone know what was happening.
Grillo, through his questioning, implied that Nicholson was implicating Ferrari in the crime because Ferrari had not paid him for his security work.
Fiorillo, a former co-defendant in the case, has admitted to participating in the Feb. 6, 2001, murder of Boulis in Fort Lauderdale. Fiorillo has testified in pre-trial hearings that he watched Boulis leave his office that night and alerted Ferrari by phone. Minutes later, Boulis was shot in an ambush.
On the stand Friday, Nicholson said he overheard Fiorillo complain to Ferrari that he was the only one involved in the hit on Boulis who had not been paid, "and I'm the one who killed him."
Prosecutors do not believe Fiorillo was the gunman. That role, they say, fell to John Gurino, who was killed two years later in a shooting in Boca Raton.
Nicholson said he never believed Fiorillo was the shooter, then surprised lawyers on both sides by saying that Fort Lauderdale police wired his van to record a conversation between him and Fiorillo sometime after Memorial Day 2001.
Prosecutor Gregg Rossman said the State Attorney's Office was unaware of any such recording. Prosecutors are required by law to turn all evidence over to the defense. Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes said she would need to determine whether prosecutors illegally withheld evidence from the defense and, if so, what to do about it.
The trial will continue on Saturday. Holmes said she is holding a rare Saturday session to make the trial move more quickly because the 13-member jury, which includes one alternate, has been sequestered since opening statements Sept. 30.
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