Monday, July 21, 2014

Casella's Restaurant

1987 was a good year for John Gotti.   He was boss of the Gambino Family and he had been acquitted in a high profile case.  He knew that he was on someone's hit list but he thought it was for the killing of his boss Paul Castellano. He did not know that he had really pissed off the Genovese Family, and not just because Chin Gigante was mad about the Castellano murder.  John Gotti had moved in on the rackets that the Philadelphia Family had run until their family was decimated and their boss Nicky Scarfo was put away for life.  This really made the Genovese in New Jersey mad and the number three man in the family, Louis "Bobby" Manna wanted John Gotti and his brother Gene Gotti dead.  Bobby Mana was the Consigliere of the family and he ran the New Jersey faction of the family from Casella's restaurant in Hoboken. What Bobby did not know is that the FBI had a wire inside Casella's and they picked up these words "Wear a disguise, its an open place."  "A Big Hit John Gotti."  The plan was to shoot John Gotti on the corner when he did a walk talk from his Bergin Hunt and Fish Social Club in Queens. They then planned on gunning down his brother Gene who was on trial for running a Heroin ring. The FBI warned John Gotti and the hit never went down.

The wire at Casella's also picked up the planning of another hit.  This time the target was Irwin Schiff, a 350lb millionaire conman who had crossed Bobby Manna.  Irwin had shylock loans on the street and he had also failed to give back cash that belonged to the Genovese Family. It was believed he was laundering money for the family and had skimmed a lot off the top.  On August 8, 1987, Irwin Schiff was having dinner at Bravo Sergio on the Upper East side of Manhattan with a friend's wife when a gunman walked in the rear door and fired two 38cal slugs into his head and then calmly walked out. The NYPD was at a loss as to why or who killed Irwin and very few of the 20 witnesses came forward with any information. The FBI had a wire up in Casella's in Hoboken and they had picked up some talk. On August 5th the FBI had picked up "You want him hit," and "we will do him good at night." They referred to him as CC because he ran Consolidated Construction and one of the guys who partnered with him was a man named Domenico "Dom" RaBuffo.  Dom knew what was going on but that was to come later. The FBI wire picked up the Mobsters in Casella's talking about the hit two days after the hit on August 10th and it was damming.  They would all go on trial and Bobby Mana would get 80 years!

Dom Rabuffo would become a government protected witness and disappear after the trial.   Dom would move on to Florida where he did not get out of his life of crime.  Dom was convicted just last week of stealing 49.5 million in an elaborate mortgage fraud. Dom and his former wife Mae used two straw holding companies to gain control of a purported housing development in Cashiers, North Carolina that they called Hampton Springs. They then recruited straw buyers to apply for loans on parcels and then construction loans. They used an accountant to forge paperwork to inflate the straw buyers on paper. They had a guy in the mortgage company that helped push the fraudulent loans through banks. These
banks would include Bank Of America, Suntrust, Wachovia and Regions. 33 million dollars of this money was for construction loans and they created a number of shell companies that they funneled this cash through. It all blew up and they now face some major time.

All this fraud began in a small Italian restaurant in Hoboken.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SunCruz Casinos

A Greek sailor, a Washington Lobbyist, A Mattress Salesman and a few Gambino Associates.  It sounds like a crazy low budget film, but its the real life cast of characters in today’s blog.

Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was born in a small Greek fishing village where he never made it past the 6th grade. He studied to be a mechanic and then joined the Merchant Marines. He later jumped ship in Halifax, Canada.  Gus then made his way to Toronto where he found work as a dishwasher in a sandwich shop named Mr. Submarine. Within 5 years he was a partner and was given shares when they began
to franchise. At the age of 25 he headed to Miami to retire as a millionaire.

Gus wasn’t happy sitting idle in retirement.  Soon after moving he started Miami Subs and then started
developing commercial property. He was hugely successful and in 1994 he founded SunCruz Casino in Key West Florida.  SunCruz was a floating casino or a  “Cruise Ship to Nowhere” ship.  SunCruz ships were not old rust buckets.  They were opulent cruise ships with every luxury aboard.  They would cruise into international waters and then the gambling would begin.  They were a huge success until the Anti-Gambling Florida Attorney General started an invstigation.  Gus was forced to sell because he was not yet a US Citizen when he bought some of the ships. It was an obscure maritime law, but much like what our Government does to anyone sucessful, they used a loophole to put him out of business.

Gus was forced to sell and this is where things started to go bad. Adam Kidan used to own Dial-A-Mattress and some Bagel Bakeries.  He had attended Brooklyn Law School and he was very active in Republican Politics.  One of the people he met in school was Jack Abramoff, who would go on to become a bigtime Lobbyist in Washington DC.

They decided to purchase SunCruz Casinos from Gus for 147.5 million with a 23 million dollar down payment.  They didn’t have the down payment, so Gus carried the note.  They faked a wire transfer so they could get a loan from a bank for the remainder of the balance.

Enter Big Tony Moscatiello, a man once indicted with Gene Gotti and Angelo Ruggiero for helping them with their heroin organization.  Angelo's brother Sal was living as a fugitive when the private jet he was on crashed and killed all aboard.  Angelo immediately took charge of his brothers business and started hiding assets, and Big Tony helped him.  There was a mistrial and the Feds dropped the charges against Big Tony.

Adam Kidan was threatened by Gus after Gus began to realize how shady they were being.  Adam was afraid so he sought out Big Tony because of his Gambino Connections.  Big Tony was hired as a catering consultant by SunCruz and Adam Kidan soon issued checks of more than 245,000 to a company run by Big Tony's daughter.

Big Tony lived in Howard Beach, Queens and still has a home there. John Gurino Jr was another Howard Beach associate of the Gambino's with deep ties to the Gotti's.  John's cousin Anthony Gurino owned Arc Plumbing, the firm that John Gotti Sr worked for until his incarceration.  John Gurino Jr.’s father John Gurino Sr. owns Ragtime Newsstand Dairy a popular meeting places for the Gambinos. John Gurino Sr. most recently put his Deli as collateral for John Gotti Jr.’s bail.  John Gurino Jr. shot a man named John Vulcano in front of his girlfriend’s home.  While Volcano was on the way to the hospital, he identified John Gurino Jr. as the shooter, and then died. His girlfriend also identified John Gurino Jr. as the shooter.  John Gurino Jr. retained Bruce Cutler who was yet to shoot to fame as John Gotti Sr.’s lawyer. The girlfriend of Vulcano later recanted her statements and claimed that Volcano lied about who shot him.  As a result, John Gurino Jr. was acquitted of murder.  He soon moved to Florida where he continued his gangster ways.

On February 6, 2001 Gus left his office in Florida in a BMW.  Another car pulled in front of him and on a narrow road, it stopped.  A black Mustang pulled up alongside the BMW and a shooter fired a 380 Auto into Gus.  Gus was mortally wounded and his car continued on, striking a pole. The Police immediately suspected Adam Kidan, but he was not even in town.  After they went over the financial records of SunCruz Casinos, they started seeing the checks going to Big Tony.  There was also $10,000 in casino chips given to some other men.

Adam Kidan finally told the Police that Big Tony had Gus killed and the shooter was John Gurino Jr.  The theory is that Big Tony wanted the gravy train to continue and Gus would have stopped it by taking back control of SunCruz Casinos.  So Big Tony reached out for someone to put in work, and that is where John Gurino Jr. came into the picture.  John Gurino Jr. had bragged for years that he got away with murder before and he was recommended by another Gambino drug dealer. John Gurino Jr. will never face justice because he was killed by a deli owner in Florida who he was shylocking after he threatened the man while the man was armed.  Two other men have been convicted of taking part in the murder, but Big Tony still has yet to go to trial because of a mistrial in his first trial.  The whole truth may never come out but its a hell of a story!