Thursday, March 30, 2006

All I Know About Politics I Learned From Tony Soprano [a rant]

So it seems Jack Abramoff will soon be a guest of the federal government. His five-year, 10-month sentence was the minimum allowed under federal guidelines for wire fraud. The judge may have been swayed by some 260 letters written by Abramoff's friends attesting to his fine character. Among other good deeds, the uber-lobbyist would fetch water for guests in his tony DC restaurant, and once tried to locate a friend's lost hamster.

Jack Abramoff, the first Jewish saint.

Other rodents who've enjoyed Abramoff's largesse were less forthcoming. He received no letters on his behalf from Tom DeLay, Senators Robert Ney or Conrad Burns, or any of the White House staffers with whom Abramoff met nearly 200 times in a single year. They must not have any of those new 39 cent stamps yet.

Abramoff is looking at an additional 11-year stretch for other white collar crimes, including bribery and influence peddling. But what's not been widely reported so far is his uncomfortable proximity to a gangland-style murder.

The saga begins in 2000, when Abramoff and his business partner in crime, Adam Kidan, tried to buy SunCruz Casinos using Monopoly money. They did it by forging a bank transfer for $23 million (their end of the deal) and financing the rest. A neat trick if you can manage it: "Own a $150 million floating gambling empire -- for no money down!" Only they got caught; hence Abramoff's and Kidan's upcoming stretch in the pokey.

Five months after the deal closed, the guy who sold them SunCruz, Konstantinos ''Gus'' Boulis, got whacked in a Mafia-style hit. The alleged hit men -- Anthony "Big Tony'' Moscatiello, Anthony "Little Tony'' Ferrari, and James "Pudgy'' Fiorillo -- were all on the SunCruz payroll, thanks to Adam Kidan.

Kidan paid Big Tony -- a former bookkeeper for the Gambino family -- $145,000 for "consulting, site inspection, and catering," even though apparently no consultations or catering ever took place. (Perhaps he was planning to bake Boulis into a moussaka and serve him at the company picnic.) Kidan paid Little Tony and Pudgy $95,000 for "surveillance" and security services.

When Boulis died, Abramoff and Kidan owed him $60+ million -- a considerable sum even by Republican standards.

Pudgy says Kidan ordered the hit. Kidan denies it. So far neither he nor Abramoff have been charged in connection with the crime, whose trial has just gotten underway. But that doesn't mean they're in the clear. To quote the March 24, Washington Post:

"Prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said his office had not intended on calling Abramoff as a witness in part because he would be given immunity from prosecution for anything he says under those conditions. Cavanagh also said that Kidan has not been cleared as a suspect in the Boulis slaying."

In other words, stay tuned for next week's episode of The Sopranos Go South.

Gambling, bribery, fraud, and now murder. All these years the Republicans have been talking about "family values," and it turns out the family they had in mind was the Mafia. Who knew?


Blogger Liz_Dexic said...

Jack Abramoff the first Jewish saint

Actually, Edith Stein beat him to it.

10:21 PM  

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