Star witness Adam Kidan and Bacardi lobbyist to testify in Texas conspiracy trial of Tom DeLay

By Dan Christensen,

Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay

Adam Kidan, the Broward State Attorney’s star witness in the pending Gus Boulis murder trial, has been subpoenaed to testify this month in the Texas election law conspiracy trial of the once powerful Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Kidan, the former owner of SunCruz Casinos who now lives in Stony Brook, N.Y., was summoned to testify about “social interactions” he witnessed in DeLay’s Congressional office between DeLay and the notorious former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, of Miami-based Greenberg Traurig.

“Adam Kidan can also testify to Thomas Dale DeLay’s presence in Jack Abramoff’s skybox at a Washington Redskin NFL game,” says the subpoena, filed Oct. 18 in Travis County Court.

The subpoena does not say what wrongdoing Kidan may have witnessed. But Abramoff was a major fundraiser for DeLay, who in turn was an ally of Abramoff’s clients, including casino rich Indian tribes looking for regulatory and other help.

DeLay is charged with conspiring with three former aides to launder illegal corporate contributions to state candidates through the Republican National Committee. Texas law bans corporate or union contributions to political candidates.

DeLay has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and said he’ll be exonerated. If convicted of the felony charge, however, he faces up to two years in prison.

DeLay was forced to step down from the House leadership post when he was indicted in 2005, and he resigned from Congress a year later. He gained fame outside politics last year when he appeared as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

In August, DeLay received a legal boost when the Justice Department announced that it had ended its six-year investigation of him without filing any chrge.

That same month, a judge in Texas decided DeLay would be tried separately and before his alleged co-conspirators.

Texas prosecutors and DeLay’s defense have subpoenaed dozens of witnesses, most from Texas or Washington.

Kidan, called to testify during a three-day period starting Nov. 8, is one of two South Florida figures subpoenaed by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to testify in the trial that opened Monday in Austin.

Bacardi president to testify

Texas court records show that former Bacardi-Martini president Jorge Rodriguez-Marquez, of Miami Beach, was summoned to testify about a Bacardi corporate campaign contribution made to DeLay’s political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) during the 2002 election cycle. TRMPAC is an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

Miami-based Bacardi USA, Bacardi-Martini’s parent, has been under indictment in Texas since 2004 in a related case for allegedly making an illegal $20,000 corporate contribution to TRMPAC. Trial is expected to begin in December, according to a Texas D.A.’s spokesman.

bacardi_logoRodriguez-Marquez did not respond to a request to comment about why he was summoned. However, a company statement said, “Bacardi USA made a legal contribution in full compliance with the laws and regulations of the state of Texas and we are confident this matter will be cleared.”

Bacardi’s indictment, and Rodriguez-Marquez’s subpoena, stem from the rum giant’s long-running fight with French liquor competitor Pernod Ricard and Cuba for control of the Havana Club rum label.

Rodriguez-Marquez handled Bacardi’s political contributions and was a key lobbyist on the issue. In 2002, for example, email traffic from the governor’s office showed how he enlisted then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to lobby Bacardi’s case in Washington with political appointees of his brother, President George W. Bush. At the same time, Bacardi was pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the Florida Republican Party and Bush’s re-election campaign.

Like Gov. Bush, DeLay put pressure on the Bush administration to help Bacardi in its trademark dispute. About the same time, records showed, Bacardi contributed $43,000 to DeLay controlled groups, including $20,000 to TRMPAC.

That $20,000 was among $190,000 in corporate contributions later sent by TRMPAC to the Republican National Committee, which in turn sent the same amount back to several candidates in Texas.

Prosecutors call that laundering. DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, has said it was a legitimate and common transaction.

Boulis, Kidan and Abramoff

Kidan was partners with Abramoff in September 2000 when they purchased Boulis’s SunCruz Casinos fleet for $147.5 million. But relations between the two sides quickly deteriorated and in the weeks before the murder Boulis had sued Kidan and Abramoff claiming they were trying to cheat him out of tens of millions of dollars owed in the sale.

Adam Kidan

Adam Kidan

On the evening of Feb. 6, 2001, Boulis, also the founder of the Miami Subs restaurant chain, was ambushed and shot to death gangland style in his car outside Port Everglades. Three men, including alleged Gambino family associate Anthony Moscatiello, were eventually charged with murder, but have not yet been tried.

A Fort Lauderdale federal grand jury indicted Kidan and Abramoff for fraud involving the sale in 2005. Both men later pleaded guilty and went to prison. Kidan served 35 months; Abramoff 3 ½ years and is now in a halfway house in Baltimore. His release date is Dec. 4.

Federal court records show Kidan paid about $250,000 to Moscatiello and Anthony Ferrari, who was also charged in Boulis’s murder. The payments were made before and after the murder, but Kidan has said the money was for catering and security services, not for a hit on Boulis.

Broward prosecutors believe Kidan, and have enlisted him to testify as a motive witness against Moscatiello, Ferrari and a third defendant, James Fiorillo. They have said the trio killed Boulis so he could not interfere with that stream of payments.

[A reenactment of the Boulis slaying was filmed for the upcoming movie about Abramoff, “Casino Jack,” which is now set to open nationwide in December. The film stars Kevin Spacy, and was directed by George Hickenlooper, who died Saturday of natural causes, according to the Los Angeles Times.]

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