BushFellas - Casino Jack and the Republican Thugees
"I don't think we have had something of this scope, arrogance and sheer venality in our lifetimes," wrote Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "It is building to an explosion, one that could create immense collateral damage within Congress and in coming elections."
*World Exclusive*Nov 10,2005by Daniel Hopsicker
As three men—Anthony ‘Big Tony’ Moscatiello, Anthony ‘Little Tony’ Ferrari, and James ‘Pudgy Fiorillo— pled not guilty in court this week, the MadCowMorningNews has discovered new details in the investigation into the 4-year old slaying of SunCruz casino ship owner Gus Boulis.
A company which received over $100,000 in suspicious payments before the murder from Adam Kidan, we have learned, is owned by the family of long-time U.S. Senator from Florida Claude Pepper, now deceased, whose ties to illegal gambling there go back to the 1920’s.
It is a startling twist to the case, seeming to indicate, at a minimum, that the surface perturbation in Florida’s gambling world reflected in Boulis’ murder are the result of deeper tectonic shifts which the Evening News is reluctant to acknowledge or explain.
“Even as White House aides Karl Rove and Scooter Libby dominated the headlines,” read a typical analysis last week, “according to many observers Jack Abramoff remains the Republican Party's most dangerous problem.”
Here’s why: Kidan wrote a check for the hit.
A dunsky for the agesAdam Kidan, today living under a cloud of indictment for murder, made $250,000 in unexplained payments which have featured prominently in the case since the investigation began.
During the months before Boulis was gunned down, big money went to a mysterious Miami Beach company, and the daughter of a close associate of Gambino crime boss John Gotti.
After failing to pay for his purchase of Boulis’ SunCruz casino ship empire, Kidan added injury to insult, investigators now suspect, by using Boulis’ purloined company to pay for his own death.
Kidan sent checks totaling $145,000 to the daughter of Gambino hood Anthony Moscatiello, one of the three men charged so far in the gangland-style execution in Fort Lauderdale, and checks totaling $105,000 to ‘Moon Over Miami Beach.’ An officer in the company, James Ferrari, has been charged in the case.
“Moon Over Miami Beach” is “a company whose business remains unclear,” reported the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
“Anthony Ferrari runs Moon Over Miami Beach, a company just off the Lincoln Road Mall that never seems to be open for business,” reported Miami’s Channel 10 NEWS. “And Ferrari refuses to even say what business the company does.”
Moon over Miami Beach sound as phony as some of Abramoff’s other dummy front companies. We recalled the "premiere international think tank" he set up called the American International Center, through which rivers of cash were laundered.
"Want to head an international corporation?"The American International Centre was promoted as "bringing great minds together from all over the globe" under the "high-power directorship" of David Grosh, who turned out to be a rather under-powered lifeguard.
“Want to be head of an international corporation?" Grosh told an incredulous Senate committee hearing he was asked. "I was like, ‘sure.’ It was a hard one to turn down. I asked him what I had to do, and he said 'Nothing.’
“That sounded pretty good to me."
Abramoff charged exorbitant fees for work he didn't do, and set up fake charities to shelter the ill-gotten gains. There were phony grass-roots Christian groups. Phony billing statements. And nonprofits with phony purposes.
When we took a closer look at “Moon over Miami Beach” we discovered the previously undisclosed gambling associations of the firms’ other two officers, Frank and Thomas Pepper.
News accounts identified Frank Pepper as “the 77-year old founder of one of Miami's oldest real estate companies,” and Thomas Pepper as his nephew, a friend of Ferrari and one of four men who received $10,000 in Sun Cruz casino chips. A history of gambling in South Florida
In a startling twist, we have learned that the Pepper family—one of the Miami families dating back to the boom time 1920s—has a rich history of involvement in gambling in South Florida that seems germane today in a murder investigation of a man who owned floating casinos.
For more than 30 years, reported the June 30, 1991 St. Petersburg Times, the FBI and its legendary director J. Edgar Hoover collected details about Claude Pepper in an effort to link him to corruption.
FBI files indicated that Pepper "is suspected of receiving graft through various political manipulations and maneuvers in the state of Florida, although no positive evidence has ever been offered in this request."
The FBI’s suspicion of Pepper may have owed something to the “considerable notoriety” he enjoyed because of his public objections to FBI wiretapping.
A field agent in the FBI's Washington office once wrote Hoover that he was surprised that Pepper had attacked the bureau because agents there had once recovered a diamond bracelet of Mrs. Pepper's which she lost in a Washington taxicab.
"I shall always be most grateful to you and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the exceedingly kind and efficient service which you rendered to me and to Mrs. Pepper," Pepper wrote Hoover in a thank-you note.
Was Claude Pepper a clue?
At the bottom of the note, reported the St Petersburg Times story, Hoover personally added his own sentiment: "Pepper has to serve his masters, the Florida politicians and criminals."
Besides looking at Pepper's ties to left-wing organizations, the paper reported, the FBI also questioned whether Pepper’s nephew was running a gambling operation.
In 1986, Pepper formed the not-for-profit Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation, to “promote policies and programs which will improve health, provide economic opportunity and contribute to social justice for all Americans,” according to their literature.
A dandy ambition. But despite its lofty goals, the foundation carried on with a very modest budget, until after Pepper's death at age 89, when the financial picture turned unexpectedly rosy...
The U.S. Congress appropriated $ 10-million for the foundation from—are you ready for this?—the Department of Defense budget, “a direct and unrestricted grant to support the purposes of the foundation and to serve as a memorial to Pepper.”
"I've never heard of government money used to create a foundation like that,” said Robert Bothwell, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington.