More emerges on Florida document shredding

Several weeks ago, Insider Magazine ran a story reporting that a highly placed official of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleged state documents were being shredded on orders of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The official said Bush had brought in a number of individuals from Texas to carry out the job of shredding records pertaining to state gaming licensees, slot machines, dog and horse tracks, and jai-alai. The official said he witnessed the shredding.

That story seemed to vanish until very recently. Not one word was heard about the official who blew the whistle or his information. Now, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, based in Washington, D.C., who has been following the Abramoff scandal, has learned the official involved is a witness for the state in the continuing investigation of Jack Abramoff. Madsen said it is not known whether the official has testified before the grand jury.

The FBI said the destruction of the records may be because of the continuing criminal investigation of GOP lobbyist Abramoff and the federal investigation of the 2001 murder of casino boat owner Gus Boulis. Boulis was shot to death at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., intersection while driving from his office.

The Bush administration’s problems intensified with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s resignation from Congress.

DeLay’s former deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy also entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to corrupt public officials with Abramoff, who has pled guilty to fraud. Delay’s former press secretary, Michael Scanlon, also pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to more than five years in prison, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

According to some reports, federal and state investigations already have uncovered links between DeLay and members of the Gambino Mafia family.

DeLay’s involvement may draw in Jeb Bush and, possibly, the president, into the Abramoff scandal. The Broward County, Fla. trial of former John Gotti hit man Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello brought an article in the Miami Herald, reporting that Moscatiello was a long-time FBI informant.

Moscatiello is on trial with Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari and James “Pudgy” Fiorillo for the slaying of Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis. Shortly after the murder, Moscatiello severed his relationship with the FBI, according to Madsen.

Madsen also alleged Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, forced Boulis to sell Sun Cruz Casino Cruises to them under a scheme allegedly set up by Gov. Bush to create a GOP money-laundering mechanism. The state put pressure on Boulis, a Greek national, to sell his casino operation because an obscure Florida law says shipping companies must be owned by U.S. citizens.

Madsen said Gov. Bush used state regulatory machinery behind the scenes to make sure Boulis was under duress to sell his Sun Cruz interests to Abramoff. Abramoff and Kidan were recently sentenced to just fewer than six years in prison for lying to financers when they bought Sun Cruz from Boulis.

According to Madsen, Broward County, Fla. prosecutors believe the FBI’s written summaries of their interviews with Moscatiello were withheld from prosecutors to protect senior Republican officials. Had the prosecutors known Moscatiello was a federal informant, Madsen said, Moscatiello could have been offered a plea bargain in return for cooperation against GOP politicians in Florida and Washington, D.C.

Madsen said the investigation of DeLay’s dealings with Florida Mobsters was blocked by the withheld FBI interviews and obstructive actions by George W. and Jeb Bush.

Prosecutors and reporters in Miami and Fort Lauderdale are tracing the timeline involving Sun Cruz, Boulis, Abramoff and DeLay. Abramoff began talks with Boulis in February 2000 about selling Sun Cruz. Boulis eventually sold the operation to Abramoff for $147 million. At that time, Abramoff was a lobbyist for the prestigious Preston Gates law firm.

Following Bush’s election to the White House in November 2000, Boulis claimed he had been defrauded by Abramoff and Kidan in the Sun Cruz sale. Kidan and Abramoff then began steps to shift Sun Cruz’s corporate headquarters from Florida to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

In December 2000, according to testimony, Abramoff’s Sun Cruz paid Moscatiello $145,000 for “consulting services.” In January 2001, a day before George W. Bush was inaugurated, Boulis filed legal action to stop the involvement of Abramoff and Kidan with Sun Cruz.

Jan. 20, 2001, Kidan met with DeLay and former DeLay aide, Michael Scanlon, in DeLay’s congressional office in Washington to celebrate the Bush inauguration. Scanlon, former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, Abramoff and Kidan all are assisting federal prosecutors after being granted plea bargains.

Madsen also reported that Abramoff, on Jan. 25, 2001, allegedly flew Tim Berry, DeLay’s senior staff member and later DeLay’s chief of staff, to Tampa for the Super Bowl and for a meeting on a Sun Cruz casino boat. Berry did not report the trip on his disclosure forms, and DeLay’s office later said it was an “honest mistake.”

Boulis was murdered Feb. 6, 2001. State prosecutors have recently uncovered evidence that Sun Cruz was taken from Boulis to allow hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to be laundered into Republican campaigns, including the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and DeLay’s campaign. The funds were laundered through the casino boats.

Daniel Hopsicker, a Florida-based reporter, revealed there are definite links between Abramoff and DeLay and Mohamed Atta and the other 9/11 hijackers. Hopsicker said there may be new disclosures about the lead-up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hopsicker said the Abramoff scandal concerns the largest slush fund in world history. It’s what the politicians are arguing over, he said. Democrats do not want to shut down the fund, they just want a piece of the action.

He raised these questions: “Who owns Florida’s gambling boats? No one is certain. There is virtually no state or federal oversight. No one licenses the operators. No one ensures that the boats aren’t used to launder money. No one investigates whether organized crime is involved.”

In September 2001, the AP reported: “Sun Cruz Casinos has turned over photographs and other documents to FBI investigators after employees said they recognized some of the men suspected in the terrorist attacks as customers. Names on the passenger list from a Sept. 5 cruise matched those of some of the hijackers. Two or three men linked to the Sept. 11 hijackings may have been customers on a ship that sailed from Madeira Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast.”

Their Sept. 5 visit to a gambling boat filled with retirees remains unexplained.

From the April 12-18, 2006, issue

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