One of the men charged with arranging the Feb. 6, 2001, murder of Miami Subs founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was accused of trying to intimidate a key witness during a break in testimony Wednesday.
Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari — who is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder — mouthed the words "rat" and "you're a piece of s---" in the direction of Dwayne Nicholson, a former bouncer and bodyguard who was brought in to testify about a plot to kill Boulis in November 2000.
Nicholson was on the stand for about 90 minutes on Wednesday. At one point, his testimony was put on hold so lawyers on both sides could talk privately with Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes. During that sidebar, Holmes received a note from someone in the courtroom indicating that Ferrari had said something to Nicholson.
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The judge asked the jury and the witness to leave the courtroom and, once they were gone, admonished Ferrari. She read the note aloud but did not say who sent it.
"Ferrari is mouthing something to Dwayne. 'You're a piece of s---,'" she read. She warned Ferrari that such statements, if he made them, could be interpreted as witness intimidation.
Holmes then called Nicholson back into the courtroom so prosecutor Gregg Rossman could ask whether he saw Ferrari say anything. But Nicholson volunteered the information before he was asked.
"Is Tony Ferrari allowed to threaten me?" he asked the judge. "I couldn't exactly make out what he was saying. The first thing he said, he said I'm a rat."
Nicholson was allowed to repeat that allegation in front of the jury.
Defense lawyer David Bogenschutz, who represents co-defendant Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, asked for a mistrial, saying that Nicholson's claim jeopardized his client's right to a fair trial. Bogenschutz also asked for the two defendants to be tried separately. Holmes turned down both requests.
Nicholson was the first witness during the trial to tie the defendants to a plot to kill Boulis. He said he ran a business hired by Ferrari in 1998 to provide security for Ferrari himself and for Ferrari's business, Moon Over Miami Beach.
"He hired us to protect him and to protect his interests in various things he did," Nicholson said. "Tony was in the business of collecting money that was owed to him from various people."
In November 2000, Nicholson said, Ferrari came to him with what sounded like a lucrative opportunity — to provide security for the SunCruz Casino boat fleet. He said Ferrari claimed to be the nephew of John Gotti and that the Gambino crime family was buying the business from Boulis.
The buyers of SunCruz were actually business partners Adam Kidan and Jack Abramoff, an influential Washington D.C. lobbyist. Prosecutors believe they had nothing to do with Boulis' murder.
Nicholson said he knew Kidan's name and thought Moscatiello was another new owner. Though Nicholson didn't know it at the time, Kidan has since said he hired Moscatiello and Ferrari for protection from Boulis.
But Ferrari told Nicholson that Boulis was causing trouble for Moscatiello and Kidan.
"Little Tony told me that they needed Gus taken out," Nicholson said. "I said I can break his legs, I can hurt him, but I can't kill him."
Nicholson is expected back on the stand Thursday.
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