First published on Friday, August 10, 2001 In the months surrounding the Feb. 6 murder of millionaire businessman Gus Boulis, SunCruz Casinos made $250,000 in payments to a mysterious Miami Beach company and an associate of former Gambino family crime boss John Gotti, sources close to the Boulis investigation said Thursday.
Under the ownership of Boulis' rival, Adam Kidan, SunCruz issued a total of $145,000 in checks to the daughter of Anthony Moscatiello and to one of his companies. Moscatiello, who is a friend of Kidan's, is also a friend of the Gotti family. Moscatiello was once indicted -- but not convicted -- in a racketeering case with John Gotti's brother, Gene.
SunCruz also paid $95,000 to Moon Over Miami Beach, a company whose business remains unclear. Another $10,000 was paid in casino chips to four men including Thomas Pepper, a principal of that company, according to the sources. One of the check stubs from a check written to Moon Over Miami Beach said the payment was for "surveillance."
Company records and court papers previously reviewed by the Sun-Sentinel had revealed a total of $60,000 in payments -- $30,000 to Jennifer Moscatiello and $30,000 to Moon Over Miami Beach. Boulis' attorneys have said the Moscatiello payments had "no legitimate purpose," and no one, including Kidan, has offered an explanation for the Moon Over Miami Beach checks.
Kidan has defended the $30,000 in checks to Jennifer Moscatiello as consulting fees. Anthony Moscatiello is a caterer who reportedly catered weddings for the Gottis. The money was intended for Moscatiello but was directed to his daughter as an officer of Moscatiello's new company, Gran-Sons Inc., Kidan has said.
Kidan could not be reached Thursday for comment on an additional $115,000 in checks written to Gran-Sons Inc. between Feb. 26 and June 8.
SALE FALLS APART
Reports of unexplained payments from SunCruz first appeared in court documents in May in one of the eight lawsuits that sprang up in the failed $147 million sale of SunCruz by Boulis to Kidan and his partners in September.
The sale fell apart within three months, with Kidan stopping payments on $90 million in financing to Boulis and Boulis accusing Kidan of stealing his company. Kidan secured a restraining order against Boulis in December, accusing Boulis of attacking him during a business meeting and threatening to kill him.
Boulis, who retained a 10 percent interest in the company, was trying to regain control of SunCruz through the courts when he was shot and killed while driving home from his Fort Lauderdale office.
The battle for control of SunCruz included an all-out assault on Kidan's reputation by the Boulis camp, which revealed the Moscatiello payments and focused on Moscatiello's 1983 indictment. Moscatiello was accused of aiding fugitive drug dealer Salvatore Ruggiero as part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Charges against Moscatiello were dropped after a mistrial.
At the time of the allegations, Boulis' attorneys said in court documents that the Moscatiello payments and other payments made to Kidan himself were probably the "tip of the iceberg." Kidan told the Sun-Sentinel that Boulis' lawyers were insinuating that he had Boulis killed.
Moscatiello, whom Kidan said he met 10 years ago, could not be reached for comment Thursday. His attorney previously said Moscatiello grew up with the Gottis in Howard Beach, Queens, and remained a friend to the family. Moscatiello was once on the receiving end of a John Gotti tirade caught on federal wiretaps.
Kidan, struggling under the strain of the lawsuits, put SunCruz into bankruptcy on June 22. One of his partners, Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, signed over his voting rights to the Boulis camp that day, and his other partner, Ben Waldman, also supported an effort to force Kidan out as company chairman.
On July 9, Kidan accepted a $200,000 buyout for his 35 percent interest from the Boulis estate. He has since left the state, and his home number had been temporarily disconnected. The Boulis estate now owns 55 percent of SunCruz.
Fort Lauderdale police refused to comment on the latest revelations.
Previously, investigators have questioned the payments made to Moon Over Miami Beach, said they couldn't figure out what the company did and announced they wanted to talk to a man associated with the company. That man, they said, liked to brag that he was John Gotti's nephew. Police have refused to identify him.
Frank J. Pepper Jr., 77, of Coral Springs, was listed as the president of Moon Over Miami Beach in incorporation documents filed in January 1999. Thomas L. Pepper, 44, a licensed real estate broker who lives at the same address, was listed as secretary and treasurer. Anthony Ferrari, 44, of Miami, was added in March 1999 as president of the board of directors.
Payments revealed after Boulis slaying
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