News and articles relating to the scandal surrounding Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Sunday, October 02, 2005 | 10/02/2005 | Kidan's tale `stranger than fiction'

The New York entrepreneur who purchased SunCruz Casinos finds himself in the middle of the police probe of the gangland-style hit on SunCruz's former owner, Gus Boulis.


Adam Kidan, a pudgy guy from New York, was born to take risks.

Though he got a law degree, he started a bagel chain on Long Island, launched a Dial-A-Mattress franchise in Washington and bought a fleet of gambling ships in Florida.

He lost it all by his mid-30s.

Kidan, a fast-talking, 41-year-old who has always portrayed himself as a deal maker, finds himself deep in hot water. His relationship with a Gambino crime-family associate, charged last week in the 2001 mob-style hit on former SunCruz Casinos owner Gus Boulis, has thrust him into the middle of a pulp-fiction crime.

Fort Lauderdale police did question Kidan -- who had publicly feuded with Boulis over SunCruz -- after the slaying. But Kidan will have more explaining to do after the arrest of his pal, a SunCruz business vendor, Anthony Moscatiello, of New York.

''There is no commitment'' to talk with police, Kidan's lawyer, Martin Jaffe, said Friday. ``And whether he does or not in the future remains to be seen.''

Another SunCruz vendor, Anthony Ferrari, of Miami Beach, and a third suspect, James Fiorillo, of Palm Coast, were also charged last week in Boulis' murder.

Jaffe said his client insists he had nothing to do with Boulis' murder.

But the pressure on Kidan has been growing since August, when he and once-powerful Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff were charged in a federal indictment with defrauding lenders in their $147 million purchase of Boulis' SunCruz in 2000.

Kidan's latest legal woes are clearly the most serious in his lifetime, but his career as both an attorney and entrepreneur has been dogged by lawsuits and bankruptcies.

Kidan grew up in an upper middle-class family in New York and studied at George Washington University in the mid-1980s. He worked part-time for a nonprofit educational foundation. In Washington, he also met Abramoff, who was at Georgetown Law Center. They were active in the College Republicans.


He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1989, working as a volunteer in George H.W. Bush's presidential campaign. Dazzled by politics, after graduation he returned to the nation's capital to be part of a fledgling nonprofit group, For Freedoms Foundation, started by Bush campaign workers.

''It crashed very quickly,'' Kidan said in a 2001 deposition over a SunCruz legal dispute. ``Basically, the funding never materialized for it.''

Afterward, Kidan started a law practice in his Manhattan apartment. His first major client: Dial-A-Mattress. He went to work for the company in 1992 and would soon be launching his own franchise in Washington.

But by then, Kidan had already started his first business venture -- Bagels of West Hampton. It was through the bagel stores that he made his first contact with the mob, though he has always denied he was aware of his partner's organized-crime ties.

One of his bagel partners, Michael Cavallo, was an associate of a New York crime family, according to New York law enforcement. Cavallo, now dead, was dating one of Kidan's sisters.

That business was the basis of Kidan's longtime friendship with Gambino crime associate Moscatiello, who owned a Howard Beach catering service.

''I had advice from him occasionally because he was in the food business,'' Kidan said in the 2001 deposition.

But New York City police said Moscatiello, who grew up in the same neighborhood as the late Gambino boss, John Gotti, worked in loan-sharking.

Kidan's next brush with the mob was deadly.

His mother, Judith Shemtov, was murdered in her Staten Island, N.Y., home in 1993 during a botched robbery by a Bonanno crime crew with an infamous South Florida connection.

Former South Beach club impresario Chris Paciello -- legal name Christian Ludwigsen -- eventually pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car for the crew, who raided the home after getting a tip that Kidan's stepfather had $200,000 stashed in a safe.

The following year, Kidan's stepfather sued Kidan and his law partners.

Sami Shemtov accused his stepson of stealing $250,000 of his money from the sale of an electrical company. He also contended that Kidan ripped off another $15,000 Shemtov put up as a reward for information leading to the arrest of his wife's murderer.

Kidan lost the case -- then his New York law license.

Shemtov could not be reached for comment because he was out of town.

By the mid 1990s, Kidan had sold his interest in the bagel business and turned his full attention to his Dial-A-Mattress franchise.

It seemed to be going so well for Kidan that the mid-Atlantic franchise owner donated $25,000 worth of new bedding to five charities.

''We like to help the shelters as often as we can,'' Kidan told The VirginianPilot.

But he and his business filed for bankruptcy, selling off all the assets by 1999. He also had another failed venture, the world's first Internet bedding, retail and delivery company.

Meanwhile, Boulis was being forced to sell SunCruz after federal prosecutors reached a settlement with him on civil charges of violating the Shipping Act. The act requires that the owner of a U.S. shipping fleet be an American citizen. Boulis, who made his first fortune as founder of Miami Subs, wasn't a citizen at the time.

Boulis turned to his maritime lawyer in Washington, Art Dimopoulos, who contacted his partner, Abramoff, the influential lobbyist. He sought out his old friend from college days, Kidan, who said he had just made an ''eight-figure payoff'' from Dial-A-Mattress and was looking for a new investment.

Abramoff, a power broker closely connected to now-indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, put Boulis in touch with Kidan. Eventually, Abramoff joined Kidan as his partner in the deal, which closed in September 2000.

Boulis' attorneys and his family maintain that Kidan's management team ran SunCruz into the ground, as he used the company like his personal piggy bank. His lavish spending enraged Boulis, who retained a small percentage of the company and had financed half the sale, according to court records.

The growing tension also erupted in near fisticuffs at a December 2000 meeting.

Kidan hired three bodyguards at $5,000 a week.

''He was an active threat, having attacked me in the office,'' Kidan said in the deposition, having obtained a restraining order a few days after the meeting.

Boulis' attorney downplayed the reported incident between Kidan and Boulis.

''We think it's been vastly blown out of proportion,'' Martin Steinberg said at the time.

Two months after that volatile meeting, on Feb. 6, 2001, Boulis was gunned down in his BMW after leaving his Fort Lauderdale office.

By June 2001, SunCruz was bankrupt.

Court records show that Kidan, along with Abramoff, drew a $500,000 annual salary; rented a $4,500 condo on Williams Island in Aventura; bought a 34-foot powerboat for $90,000; and leased an armored Mercedes-Benz for $207,000.

Kidan and Abramoff also diverted $310,000 in SunCruz money to pay for a luxury skybox at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, according to court documents. It was part of Abramoff's Republican fundraising enterprise at that stadium, Camden Yards and MCI Center in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Kidan also tapped SunCruz coffers to pay about $250,000 to Moscatiello and Ferrari, who claimed to be a relative of Gambino boss Gotti, for catering and security services.

Those links -- in the wake of this week's three arrests -- have plunged Kidan deeper into the Fort Lauderdale police's homicide investigation.

Detectives have not named him as a suspect but invited him to share what he knows. Although Kidan was interviewed after Boulis' murder, they would like to speak to him again in light of his former business associates' alleged involvement.


The case has another curious connection: Even the New York organized-crime detective who helped arrest Moscatiello at his Queens home called the case ``stranger than fiction.''

Detective Richie Fagan said he used to baby-sit Paciello, the man convicted of participating in the killing of Kidan's mother.

''I couldn't believe it when I learned that Moscatiello was an associate of Kidan's,'' Fagan said. ``Who would have believed that something like this could happen? This is one small world.''


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