Gus Boulis, SunCruz Casinos founder gunned down in 2001, immortalized in upcoming movie
Wake up and good morning. Readers familiar with Tampa Bay gambling-in-the-gulf lore will remember Gus Boulis, founder of SunCruz Casinos (and the Miami Subs chain), who at one time turned gambling cruises to nowhere into a gold mine. He also made a lot of enemies along the way, apparently why he was gunned down in a gangland slaying while driving his BMW near Fort Lauderdale in February 2001. (Photo, left: AP.)
Under Boulis' (photo, right) watch, SunCruz boats tied up in Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, John's Pass, Clearwater, Daytona Beach, Key Largo, Port Canaveral, Hollywood and Palm Beach. They operated virtually unregulated, allowing legal gambling 3 miles off U.S. shores in international waters. Federal prosecutors reportedly forced Boulis to sell his majority ownership in September and fined him for violating a law prohibiting foreigners from owning and operating certain vessels in the United States. More on his Tampa Bay activities here.
The three men charged in 2005 with conspiring to kill Boulis have yet to go to trial in Broward Circuit Court. The one who's out on bond -- Anthony ``Big Tony'' Moscatiello -- will have the opportunity of watching both the slaying and himself portrayed in a new movie opening Oct. 1.
As reported by BrowardBulldog.org, the film Bagman is about Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the nation's biggest political scandal since Watergate. Actor Kevin Spacey (AP photo, left) plays Abramoff. Bagman, formerly called Casino Jack, is also the tale of former mattress salesman Adam Kidan, who was a partner with Abramoff in a $147.5 million deal to buy Boulis' SunCruz Casinos in September 2000. A year after Boulis' death, both men pleaded guilty in federal court of conspiring to defraud lenders in the contentious SunCruz deal.
Kidan was released from prison last year after serving 31 months. Abramoff (wearing hat, right), formerly employed by the big Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials. He spent 3½ years behind bars before his release to an undisclosed halfway house this month. He will finish his sentence on Dec. 4, BrowardBulldog.org reports. Here's the full story.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist