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How Rotten Are These Guys?

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In the weeks ahead, a dangerous eruption is again threatening to shake the Bush family 's image of legitimacy, as the pressure from intersecting scandals builds.

So far, the mainstream news media has focused mostly on the white-collar abuses of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for allegedly laundering corporate donations to help Republicans gain control of the Texas legislature, or on deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove for disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer to undercut her husband 's criticism of George W. Bush 's case for war in Iraq.

Both offenses represent potential felonies, but they pale beside new allegations linking business associates of star GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff an ally of both DeLay and Rove to the gangland-style murder of casino owner Konstantinos "Gus " Boulis in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001.

These criminal cases also are reminders of George H.W. Bush 's long record of unsavory associations, including with a Nicaraguan contra network permeated by cocaine traffickers, Rev. Sun Myung Moon 's multi-million-dollar money-laundering operations, and anti-communist Cuban extremists tied to acts of international terrorism. [For details on these cases, see Robert Parry 's Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Now, George W. Bush is faced with his own challenge of containing a rupture of scandals involving prominent conservatives Abramoff, DeLay and potentially Rove that have bubbled to the surface and are beginning to flow toward the White House.

Mobbed Up

On Sept. 27, 2005 in possibly the most troubling of these cases Fort Lauderdale police charged three men, including reputed Gambino crime family bookkeeper Anthony Moscatiello, with Boulis 's murder. Boulis was gunned down in his car on Feb. 6, 2001, amid a feud with an Abramoff business group that had purchased Boulis 's SunCruz casino cruise line in 2000.

As part of the murder probe, police are investigating payments that SunCruz made to Moscatiello, his daughter and Anthony Ferrari, another defendant in the Boulis murder case. Moscatiello and Ferrari allegedly collaborated with a third man, James Fiorillo, in the slaying. [For more on the case, see Sun-Sentinel, Sept. 28, 2005.]
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The SunCruz deal also led to the August 2005 indictment of Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud over a $60 million loan for buying the casino company in 2000. Prosecutors allege that Abramoff and Kidan made a phony $23 million wire transfer as a fake down payment.

In pursuing the casino deal, the Abramoff-Kidan group got help, too, from DeLay and Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio, the Washington Post reported. Abramoff impressed one lender by putting him together with DeLay in Abramoff 's skybox at FedEx Field during a football game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.

Ney placed comments in the Congressional Record criticizing Boulis and later praising the new Abramoff-Kidan ownership team. [Washington Post, Sept. 28, 2005]

After the SunCruz sale, tensions boiled over, as Boulis and Kidan got into a fistfight. Kidan claimed that Boulis threatened his life. Two months later, however, Boulis was the one who was shot to death when a car pulled up next to him and a gunman opened fire. Lawyers for Abramoff and Kidan say their clients know nothing about the murder.

Police, however, are investigating financial ties between the Abramoff-Kidan group and Moscatiello and Ferrari.
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In a 2001 civil case, Kidan testified that he had paid $145,000 to Moscatiello and his daughter, Jennifer, for catering and other services, although court records show no evidence that quantities of food or drink were provided. SunCruz also paid Ferrari 's company, Moon Over Miami, $95,000 for surveillance services.

Kidan told the Miami Herald that the payments had no connection to the Boulis murder. "If I 'm going to pay to have Gus killed, am I going to be writing checks to the killers? " Kidan asked. "I don 't think so. Why would I leave a paper trail? "

Kidan also said he was ignorant of Moscatiello 's past. In 1983, Moscatiello was indicted on heroin-trafficking charges along with Gene Gotti, brother of Gambino crime boss John Gotti. Though Gene Gotti and others were convicted, the charges against Moscatiello identified by federal authorities as a former Gambino bookkeeper were dropped.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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