Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

This is So Carl Hiaasen!

If that piece of work, Jack Abramoff, had wanted to he couldn’t have written the outline of Hiaasen’s next novel any better. Let me see, we have Republicans both high and low, Gangland style murder, bank fraud, the Christian Coalition, Grover Norquist and the tax no oligarch crew, FBI investigations, Congressional investigations, Indian Casino’s, and TOM DELAY. The only thing missing is the SEC investigation of the head of the Senate for insider trading. Oh, yeah, that’s another story.

So, with total disregard for copyright infringement, here is Hiaasen’s take on the Abramoff adventure:

Adventures of Jack Abramoff -- an ugly story

The glistening slime trail left by lobbyist Jack Abramoff leads to an infamous homicide scene in South Florida.

And while the indicted bosom buddy of indicted Rep. Tom DeLay says he had nothing to do with the mob-style execution of casino fleet founder Gus Boulis, Abramoff probably wasn't turning cartwheels when three men were recently charged with murdering Boulis back in February 2001.

One of the defendants is Anthony ''Big Tony'' Moscatiello, identified by police as an associate of the Gambino crime family. Moscatiello is a longtime pal with lawyer Adam Kidan, who was Abramoff's partner in what prosecutors say was a fraudulent purchase of Fort Lauderdale-based SunCruz casinos from Boulis.

Kidan and Abramoff go way back. At the Georgetown Law Center they were both members of the College Republicans.

Abramoff grew up to be a big-time GOP operative whose friendship with House Speaker DeLay opened doors to all sorts of wondrous opportunities. For example, his lobby firm received $66 million in fees from Indian tribes that either wanted to set up casino operations, or block rival tribes from doing the same.

Sen. John McCain, the tenacious Arizona Republican, is currently holding hearings about Abramoff's unorthodox lobby tactics and the favors he seems have bought at the Interior Department, which oversees Indian matters.

It's an ugly story, but not the worst of Abramoff's legal problems. That would be his partnership with Kidan, whose keen business acumen and sterling ethics had already led to multiple bankruptcies and the loss of his New York law license.

In 2000, Abramoff shiningly recommended Kidan to Gus Boulis as a buyer for the SunCruz casino boat fleet, which Boulis was being forced to sell because he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

The buyout sounded like such a sweet deal that Abramoff decided to go 50-50 with Kidan, and the papers were finally signed in September 2000.

Boulis, who'd kept a stake in SunCruz, soon became enraged with Kidan's free-spending management. Among those hired for catering and security services were Kidan's old mob friend Moscatiello and another upstanding citizen named Anthony ''Little Tony'' Ferrari. When Boulis started to raise hell about the money, things grew so tense that Kidan got a restraining order and even hired three bodyguards.

Boulis filed suit, and the next month he was dead, shot to death in his BMW after leaving his office in Fort Lauderdale. Like Abramoff, Kidan says he knows nothing about Boulis' murder.

In September, Moscatiello, Ferrari and a third man, James ''Pudgy'' Fiorillo, were charged with the crime. But back to the deal:

Four months after Boulis died, SunCruz was in the toilet. Court records showed that Kidan and Abramoff had diverted $310,000 of company funds for a luxury skybox at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., where Abramoff entertained politicians and GOP fat cats.

He and Kidan also had helped themselves to $500,000 salaries and lots of expensive perks. But here's the best part: According to prosecutors, the two men took control of the casino line without ever putting down a dime of their own dough.

Abramoff and Kidan were indicted in South Florida last summer for allegedly faking documents showing they'd invested $23 million in the deal. Those papers enabled them to obtain $60 million in real financing.

Both men say they're innocent. Predictably, Abramoff blames Kidan for the alleged fraud and insists he didn't know about his pal's past business flops, or the disbarment.

It's quite a tale, and quite a statement about the prevailing culture in Washington, D.C., where until his troubles began Abramoff owned a restaurant popular with the conservative crowd.

His role in the SunCruz takeover wasn't widely known four years ago when Gus Boulis was shot, but Abramoff obviously wasn't concerned. He and Kidan blithely siphoned the cash out the company and moved on.

Abramoff was coasting along nicely, ripping off the Indian tribes, until the SunCruz indictments last summer. Today his big-shot friends can't help him, and wouldn't if they could.

Once a star and darling of congressional Republicans, Abramoff is now political poison. No more skybox parties or free Scottish golf vacations for the Speaker of the House. No more schmoozing with Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist.

Indicted in Florida, under fire from McCain in Washington, Abramoff can now look forward to an upcoming mob-hit trial in which his once-golden name might be unflatteringly invoked.

He could even be asked to testify, an event that would reduce his once-bulging Rolodex to the thickness of a library card.

The players and politicians who are so desperately distancing themselves from Abramoff would prefer that we think of him as some small-time hustler, a fringe sleazeball who crawled out of the shadows.

He wasn't. He was a big-league hustler and a mainstream sleazeball.

And he was all theirs.

Yes, he was, and is, all theirs. And they are terrified. What a guy!


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