FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A motorist who witnessed the gangland-style slaying of a prominent South Florida businessman testified Tuesday that he thought the shooter would come after him next and spent months almost in hiding out of fear.
Robert Puskarich, now a banker in Tampa, testified that he had gone out for some milk on Feb. 6, 2001, and was driving home behind a BMW driven by Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. A car abruptly stopped in front of Boulis, blocking them both.
"There was no stop sign there. No animal or person crossing the road. There wasn't really enough space for any of us to back up and go around," Puskarich testified.
Moments later, a black Mustang pulled up to the driver side of Boulis' car and its driver fired several shots at the businessman at point-blank range. Puskarich said he ducked down into the passenger side of his car as the Mustang slowly drove past.
"I was afraid this guy was going to shoot me," said Puskarich, who added later that he could barely leave his house for months afterward. "I was afraid that whoever did the shooting was going to come back for me. This has affected me greatly."
Puskarich testified in the trial of Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, 75, and 56-year-old Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say they orchestrated Boulis' killing by a mob hit man amid a power struggle over the lucrative SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet that Boulis had owned. Boulis also founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain.
Puskarich just happened to be a part of the drama. After he thought the gunman had driven past, he said he looked out of his car window and came face-to-face with him. But the gunman drove away without firing any more shots, Puskarich testified.
"Just casually drove away. It wasn't like, slam on the pedal or anything. He was very calm," he said.
The next day Puskarich gave investigators a description of the man, who he thought was Hispanic and had a moustache, both of which turned out to be wrong. The hit man was identified years later as John Gurino, who was killed himself in a dispute with a delicatessen owner in Boca Raton.
Defense attorneys David Bogenschutz and Christopher Grillo poked several holes in Puskarich's account, including the faulty shooter description and his incorrect belief that the Mustang was a convertible.
"I'm not 100 percent certain of anything that happened that night," Puskarich said.
Boulis was slain a few months after selling SunCruz for $147.5 million to New York businessman Adam Kidan and partner Jack Abramoff, at the time, a high-profile Washington lobbyist. Investigators say it was Kidan who brought Moscatiello and Ferrari on board, part of a lingering dispute with Boulis who retained a 10 percent ownership share.
Prosecutors say Boulis was killed because he planned to try to regain control of SunCruz. They also say Moscatiello is affiliated with New York's Gambino crime family, formerly headed by top boss John Gotti.
Kidan and Abramoff would eventually plead guilty to federal fraud charges stemming from the SunCruz transaction and do time in prison. Kidan is expected to be a key witness against Moscatiello and Ferrari.
Abramoff was also the central figure in a Washington corruption scandal that resulted in federal charges brought against 21 people, including congressional officials.
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