Plea deal hinted in SunCruz case

His partner could turn witness against lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the allegedly tainted gambling fleet sale.

Associated Press
Published December 9, 2005

MIAMI - A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next week at which Adam Kidan, a former business associate of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, could plead guilty to charges arising from the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.

Plea deals in federal criminal cases usually require the defendant to cooperate with prosecutors in return for a reduced prison sentence. If Kidan pleads guilty, he could be required to provide evidence and possibly testify against Abramoff.

U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck scheduled the "change of plea" hearing for Kidan for Thursday.

Kidan and Abramoff were indicted in August on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors say they faked a $23-million wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a sizable chunk of their own money into the $147.5-million SunCruz deal.

Based on the allegedly false transfer, lenders agreed to provide $60-million in financing. Abramoff has said in court papers he was unaware of the false wire transfer and blamed Kidan.

Kidan's attorney, Jonathan Rosenthal, would not comment when asked Thursday if Kidan would plead guilty. Nor would Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, or Abramoff's lawyer in Miami, Neal Sonnett.

The plea hearing comes after another of Abramoff's former partners, Michael Scanlon, agreed to cooperate in the SunCruz case as part of a plea agreement in a separate case with federal prosecutors in Washington. Scanlon admitted in that agreement that he helped Kidan and Abramoff buy SunCruz, in part by persuading Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, to insert comments in the Congressional Record designed to pressure the owner to sell.

The former SunCruz owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, was slain in 2001 as he drove near his office in Fort Lauderdale. Documents released by police show Boulis and Kidan were embroiled in a battle for control of SunCruz. Kidan has denied any involvement in the gangland-style hit.

In September, police arrested three men on murder charges in Boulis' killing.