Gus (Kostas) Boulis

Miami Subs,
SunCruz founder gunned
down in Lauderdale while driving car


Miami Herald
Friends, associates of Boulis shocked, concerned, silent
Greeks of Diaspora
mourn one of own
Slain Boulis buried in hometown in Greece

Friends, family eulogize Gus Boulis as benefactor to S. Florida's Greek community

Investigators meet to share information on Boulis murder

Friends, associates of Boulis shocked, concerned, silent

Boulis adversary's life torn by mother's killing

Suspects plentiful in Boulis murder as detectives sort through disputes, threats

Boulis lived a volatile, unlikely success story

Fate of Boulis' hotel developments in Broward uncertain

Miami Subs, SunCruz founder gunned down in Lauderdale while driving car


Gus Boulis
By JEFF SHIELDS Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 6:28 a.m. Feb. 9, 2001

   The shooting death of maverick businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis has cast a pall of fear over the people who knew him, with some of his closest associates admitting concern at being connected with a man targeted by hit men.
   "I was a little shaken myself," said one of his advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's not every day you (know) someone, and they're blown away five minutes later."
   Most of Boulis' closest business partners, including R. Donahue Peebles and new SunCruz Casino executives, and legal advisers retreated behind company-issued news releases expressing shock and extending condolences to his family. Friends didn't return calls from reporters.
   Boulis was gunned down about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, just after leaving the office of his company, Atlantia Holdings at 910 SE 17th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Atlantia staffers remained similarly silent Thursday, referring calls to a public relations agency.
   Even police were having difficulty with some people.
   "There are a lot of people who aren't talking for reasons of personal safety," said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.
   SunCruz president Adam Kidan, who said Boulis had threatened to kill him, was traveling overseas on Thursday and wouldn't disclose which country he was in when reached on his cell phone. He declined to comment on Boulis' death, referring to Tuesday's company statement "out of respect" for Boulis.
   Another associate declined to discuss anything about Boulis.
   "I've got my family to worry about," he said, again on condition of anonymity. "The right word is just shock."
   Boulis left a long list of broken business deals, and many people held grudges against him. Both his wife and his long-time girlfriend had at one time obtained restraining orders against him, and Hollywood's anti-development forces considered him the scourge of Hollywood Beach.
   Sometimes his acquaintances were both friends and adversaries at the same time.
   DeWayne Williams, who was a partner in SunCruz ships in Jacksonville and South Carolina, spent the weeks before Boulis' death complaining of how Boulis and the new owners of SunCruz cheated him out of his interests. But, after Boulis' death, Williams stopped returning phone calls and his attorney said the legal problems never came between them.
   "They were friends, and they remained friends," said Tony Leon, Williams' attorney. " They were not enemies by any stretch of the imagination."
   Staff Writer Ardy Friedberg contributed to this report.
   Jeff Shields can be reached at jshields@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7921.
   

     

Friends, family eulogize Gus Boulis as benefactor to S. Florida's Greek community

By ANDREAS TZORTZIS Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 6:10 a.m. Feb. 9, 2001

HOLLYWOOD -- He was the banker they could borrow money from. The shopkeeper who would give them a job. A successful businessman they could be proud to call their own.
   The benefactor of thousands in South Florida's Greek community, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis nonetheless kept a low profile, giving in private and without fanfare. The shopkeepers, clergy and organization heads who received money or the promise of support from Boulis knew little of the tenacious business persona that emerged behind the closed doors of board rooms and offices. Or the defiant public persona that faced up to city governments and competing businessmen.
   Nor did they want to.
   "He had this human side of a businessman, that not every businessman has. If you had a problem, he could help you," said Anastase Lavassas, past president of Friends of Greece, an organization Boulis supported. "To us it was plain and simple, we didn't see any controversy."
   And so they flocked by the hundreds Thursday to tiny St. George Greek Orthodox Church in a quiet residential neighborhood of Hollywood for Gus Boulis' memorial service. They walked in -- the businessmen, the Sunday school teachers, the waiters from his many restaurants -- with fixed mouths and sad eyes. They walked out in tears, mopping eyes, wearing sunglasses long after the sky got dark.
   Few could understand Boulis' violent end, stalked and gunned down in his BMW after he left work Tuesday night. He gathered enemies in his high-stakes, aggressive business deals, many said. But it was, after all, only business.
   "When it comes down to basic human contact, there weren't enough enemies to do something as atrocious as this," said Greg Karan, an executive vice president at Atlantia, Boulis' company.
   He gave away a lot of money quietly. His beneficiaries were rarely privy to his tenacity as a businessman, his competitive dealings in property on Hollywood beach and in the Keys.
   Father Michael Kamaritis said Boulis, 51, possessed what Greeks call "eliniko demonio," the ability to go anywhere in any condition and become a success.
   "His capacity to create wealth the Greeks saw as a superhuman quality," said Nicholas Orphonakos, who owns the Quay restaurant in Key Largo, part of a chain of Boulis restaurants. "Especially when you have to compete in a society as rich as the United States."
   He was a businessman foremost. He sold lottery tickets as a teenager in Greece. Then he came to North America and took a Toronto sandwich shop and turned it into a successful company with franchises across Canada.
   Though Boulis intended to retire to the Keys in the early 1980s after his Canadian success, he ended up buying a restaurant and, piece-by-piece, built a restaurant, hotel and casino cruise empire. He made sure to give back to as many people who needed it as possible.
   It was this quality that Greeks admired most in him, that made him a topic of conversation at weekly church services.
   "He was known as the guy who would bail the community out, Lavassas said. "So you can understand how we feel."
   Margaret Hren, who is a former business partner and the mother of his two young children, his two sisters, and scores of other family members filed into the church for an early service and stayed as more than 350 mourners crowded the pews. They sat in the front row as people went by the open coffin, weeping and kissing Boulis' face.
   Nick Economou, a business partner, gave a eulogy and Father Demosthenes Mekras, who headed the St. Sophia Cathedral in Miami for 46 years, also spoke. Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti, who battled with Boulis on many of his Hollywood development ideas, was there as well.
   "He was complex, he was not at all black and white," Giulianti said. "I think people want to make sure the good side of his person will be acknowledged."
   To Father Mekras, "He wasn't flawless, he was like every one of us. But the good superseded the bad."
   Outside, as if to remind everyone of how Boulis died, security guards monitored the area as homicide detectives from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department scoured the crowds.
   Both in the church and near its black iron fence, small groups gathered and speculated on who could have been the killer. As to why, Father Kamaritis referred to a Greek parable: "The tree that bears fruit receives some stones."
   Andreas Tzortzis can be reached at atzortzis@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4523.
   

     

Investigators meet to share information on Boulis murder
By ARDY FRIEDBERG Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 6:10 a.m. Feb. 9, 2001

Detectives from several police agencies met on Thursday to share information about Gus Boulis, the flamboyant and controversial businessman who was slain in a gangland-style ambush Tuesday night.
   Investigators from the Broward Sheriff's Office Strategic Investigations Division, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI's organized crime squad met at Fort Lauderdale police headquarters to develop some common threads between Boulis' sometimes bitter business dealings and his murder.
   They also advanced several theories to explain how Boulis' killers knew where he would be when he was gunned down in his car on a Fort Lauderdale street corner, said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.
   "He wasn't an average businessman. He met with people here and there, he had dinners and meetings, and he didn't leave every day at the same time. His schedule varied. He had enemies," Reed said.
   "Maybe they were just waiting for him outside his building; maybe they got a call from someone that he was leaving, maybe they had been following him for several days. Maybe they are professionals and maybe not, but there is no question this was well-planned."
   Boulis, 51, was shot to death on a lightly traveled, poorly lit street in southeast Fort Lauderdale at about 9:15 p.m., minutes after he left a business meeting at his office building at 910 SE 17th St.
   Before leaving, he met with developer R. Donahue Peebles, and lobbyists Bernie Friedman and Alan Koslow regarding the Diamond on the Beach Hotel project in Hollywood. That meeting ended about 8 p.m., Reed said, and was followed by another with an associate, who has not been named, that ended just after 9. Boulis and the other man left in separate cars.
   Moments after Boulis drove his BMW out of his building's parking lot, he was cut off and forced to stop by a car at Miami Road and Southeast 20th Street. A second car, described by the only eyewitness to the shooting as a 1990s-vintage black Ford Mustang, quickly pulled up on Boulis' driver's side.
   The driver of the Mustang fired a semi-automatic pistol five or six times, hitting Boulis three times in the upper body. He died about an hour later at Broward General Medical Center.
   The motive for the killing could stem from Boulis' business dealings or his private life, police said. He had been embroiled in a series of legal and personal problems involving his sale of SunCruz Casinos, building projects in Hollywood, a pending divorce and dispute with new SunCruz owner Adam Kidan that led to a restraining order against Boulis.
   Two days after the killing there was still no short list of suspects or solid motives. Police continued to interview Boulis' friends and associates.
   The $101,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case resulted in more than three dozen tips to CrimeStoppers and police, a number of which are considered valuable, police said.
   "This is not a case of talking to the usual suspects. It's more a case of talking to the unusual suspects," Reed said. "That's a lot of money and it's bringing people out."
   Ardy Friedberg can be reached at afriedberg@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4843
   

     

Friends, associates of Boulis shocked, concerned, silent
By JEFF SHIELDS Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 6:28 a.m. Feb. 9, 2001

   The shooting death of maverick businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis has cast a pall of fear over the people who knew him, with some of his closest associates admitting concern at being connected with a man targeted by hit men.
   "I was a little shaken myself," said one of his advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's not every day you (know) someone, and they're blown away five minutes later."
   Most of Boulis' closest business partners, including R. Donahue Peebles and new SunCruz Casino executives, and legal advisers retreated behind company-issued news releases expressing shock and extending condolences to his family. Friends didn't return calls from reporters.
   Boulis was gunned down about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, just after leaving the office of his company, Atlantia Holdings at 910 SE 17th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Atlantia staffers remained similarly silent Thursday, referring calls to a public relations agency.
   Even police were having difficulty with some people.
   "There are a lot of people who aren't talking for reasons of personal safety," said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.
   SunCruz president Adam Kidan, who said Boulis had threatened to kill him, was traveling overseas on Thursday and wouldn't disclose which country he was in when reached on his cell phone. He declined to comment on Boulis' death, referring to Tuesday's company statement "out of respect" for Boulis.
   Another associate declined to discuss anything about Boulis.
   "I've got my family to worry about," he said, again on condition of anonymity. "The right word is just shock."
   Boulis left a long list of broken business deals, and many people held grudges against him. Both his wife and his long-time girlfriend had at one time obtained restraining orders against him, and Hollywood's anti-development forces considered him the scourge of Hollywood Beach.
   Sometimes his acquaintances were both friends and adversaries at the same time.
   DeWayne Williams, who was a partner in SunCruz ships in Jacksonville and South Carolina, spent the weeks before Boulis' death complaining of how Boulis and the new owners of SunCruz cheated him out of his interests. But, after Boulis' death, Williams stopped returning phone calls and his attorney said the legal problems never came between them.
   "They were friends, and they remained friends," said Tony Leon, Williams' attorney. " They were not enemies by any stretch of the imagination."
   Staff Writer Ardy Friedberg contributed to this report.
   Jeff Shields can be reached at jshields@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7921.
   

     

Boulis adversary's life torn by mother's killing
By JEFF SHIELDS Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 6:28 a.m. Feb. 9, 2001

The man who became Gus Boulis' chief adversary in the months leading up to his execution-style murder emerged from a family that was also torn apart by a violent crime.
   Adam Kidan, who bought SunCruz Casino from Boulis last year, will be in federal court in New York City next week for the sentencing of the men convicted of killing his mother in 1993.
   Judy Shemtov, 46, was brewing tea for her husband on Feb. 18, 1993, when the doorbell rang at their Staten Island home. When she answered, two gunmen forced their way into the house, then shot her as she struggled with them. The killers later said the gun went off accidentally.
   Kidan's family thus become a sad chapter in the infamous life of Chris Paciello, a New York-area gangster who later moved to Florida and reinvented himself as a nightclub impresario in Miami Beach. Paciello later admitted he drove the getaway car in what turned out to be a botched robbery attempt targeting Shemtov's second husband, Sam, a wealthy businessman.
   His mother's death nearly destroyed the family, Kidan, 36, told the Sun-Sentinel in an interview. He and his two sisters hired a private investigator to determine whether their stepfather was involved in their mother's killing.
   "Our relationship soured very quickly," Kidan said.
   Ten months later, in December 1993, Sam Shemtov accused his stepson of misappropriating $100,000 in a business deal, and filed a grievance with the New York Supreme Court. Kidan paid his stepfather back and Shemtov dropped the matter, but a grievance committee didn't drop the case until Kidan offered his resignation from the New York Bar last year.
   Sam Shemtov had nothing to do with his wife's murder. It was the work of a gang of toughs connected with New York City's Bonanno crime family. Federal organized crime investigators weren't able to piece the case together until 1999; convictions weren't secured and a full account of the murder wasn't made public until last year.
   "For seven years, we never knew what happened," Kidan said.
   This episode from Kidan's past took on renewed significance when his relationship with Boulis degenerated into mutual lawsuits. Kidan and Boulis accused each other of stealing, cheating and lying in the deal in which Kidan and partners paid $147 million for SunCruz, with Boulis keeping a 10 percent interest in the business as a consultant.
   Boulis, enraged that Kidan and his partners forced him and many of his employees and relatives out of the SunCruz ships, allegedly tried to stab Kidan with a pen in a Dec. 5 business meeting and threatened to kill him.
   Kidan has declined to speak about Boulis following his death "out of respect for his family."
   But last week Kidan told the Sun-Sentinel that the incident triggered deep-seated emotions.
   "If someone's going to jump across at me in a business meeting, that's when someone shows they're violent -- they don't care," Kidan said. "That's when what happened with my mother hits home with me."
   Kidan acquired a restraining order preventing Boulis from coming within 500 feet of him, the SunCruz offices or the SunCruz VI vessel docked in Hollywood.
   Kidan then ordered a "threat assessment" from a Pennsylvania security firm, Seraph Inc., which determined Boulis was dangerous.
    "The target Boulis has a long history of violent behavior dating back to his life in Canada and Greece," the report reads.
   It goes on to call Boulis a sociopath whose "charm turns to aggressiveness when he feels a loss of control."
   With his life fraying at the edges -- his relationships with his wife and girlfriend in tatters, the federal government forcing him to sell his interest in SunCruz, and Kidan edging him out of the business -- Boulis was in "survival mode," the report states.
   "He sees Mr. Kidan as the person who has taken control from him," it says.
   The report concludes that Boulis wouldn't try to kill Kidan because of the attention it would bring to him. Instead, he might try to disrupt SunCruz operations or have Kidan assaulted.
   But the death of Boulis in a hail of gunfire Tuesday has turned the public spotlight on Kidan, who is not listed as a suspect by Fort Lauderdale police but is a likely stop as investigators make their rounds of interviews.
   SunCruz officials, knowing they would be questioned, have offered to cooperate and expect police to interview them shortly.
   "If they don't, they're not doing their job," a company source said Thursday.
   Perhaps the most curious piece of information about Kidan comes from the threat assessment he commissioned, which advises that Kidan practice "controlled responses" to threats because of the emotions that Boulis might stir.
   "Crime victims feel a need for equalization," the report says. "This creates subconscious anger, which can create a negative emotional response to verbal threats, which can escalate the situation."
   Kidan, a 1989 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, started a private practice in New York City and founded a chain of bagel stores, New York City's Best Bagels, in the Hamptons.
   In 1992 he joined one of his legal clients to form Dial-A-Mattress, the successful bedding franchise, and sold his interest in June 1999. He owns 40 percent of the new SunCruz enterprise.
   Jeff Shields can be reached at jshields@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7921.
   

     

Suspects plentiful in Boulis murder as detectives sort through disputes, threats
By ARDY FRIEDBERG, Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 11:14 p.m. Feb. 7, 2001

Funeral services for Gus Boulis are at 5 p.m. today, Thursday, at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 425 N. 58th Ave. in Hollywood. The body will then be shipped to Boulis' native Greece. Final funeral services and burial will be at the St. Theodoros Kavala Cemetery in his hometown of Kavala. Fred Hunter Funeral Homes is handling local arrangements.
     
      Detectives investigating the murder of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis said on Wednesday they had no shortage of potential suspects and possible motives for the gangland-style shooting of the controversial millionaire businessman on a Fort Lauderdale street corner.
   "We certainly aren't lacking in suspects," said homicide Sgt. Tim Bronson. "I'm getting calls from a lot of (police) agencies. He has been investigated for threats against his partner and fined for illegal dumping in Miami. He didn't just run a stop sign and give somebody the bird. I would say they were hired killers."
   Boulis, 51, best known for building the Miami Subs fast-food chain and the SunCruz Casino fleet, died shortly after being shot at least three times as he sat in his car at Miami Road and Southeast 20th Street shortly before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
   Police said a car blocked Boulis' BMW while a second car pulled alongside. The driver of the second car fired into the BMW, wounding Boulis. He died about an hour later at Broward General Medical Center.
   Police said no arrests were imminent, but progress was being made in the investigation.
   "We've learned where he was coming from when he was killed, we've re-examined the crime scene, we've talked with family and associates and gathered quite a lot of information that needs to be followed up," said Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Reed.
   Legal problems were bearing down on the Greek entrepreneur in the weeks before his death, and Boulis showed signs that he was under strain.
   First, his $147 million sale of SunCruz Casinos went sour. Boulis accused Adam Kidan, chairman of the new SunCruz partnership, of stealing more than $3 million in cash left on the casino boats and stiffing him on more than $30 million in payments connected with the September 2000 deal.
   Boulis' partners in South Carolina and Tampa also sued him and the new SunCruz owners, claiming they were edged out of the new deal.
   Boulis, who retained a 10 percent interest in SunCruz, allegedly blew up at Kidan during a December meeting. Kidan wanted to limit Boulis' involvement in the new SunCruz, and said Boulis tried to stab him with a pen and threatened to have him killed.
   To add to his woes, the federal government -- which had forced Boulis to sell SunCruz because he had started the business before he obtained U.S. citizenship -- wanted Boulis held in contempt of court for failing to completely unload his interest in SunCruz.
   Boulis had agreed to sell SunCruz in February 2000 to avoid prosecution on civil charges that he hid his interest in SunCruz in documents filed with the U.S. Coast Guard.
   On Wednesday, police worked to piece together Boulis' final hours.
   About 5 p.m. Tuesday, he met with Joe LaBarca, owner of Ruffy's Restaurant and Marina in Hollywood, to discuss the possible purchase of LaBarca's business.
   Later, Boulis met with a business associate at the office building he recently purchased at 910 SE 17th St., Reed said. The meeting broke up about 9:15 p.m. and Boulis and the other man left in separate cars. Police declined to name the man.
   Boulis headed south on Miami Road toward State Road 84, on his way home to Hollywood, police surmise. At the northwest corner of 20th Street and Miami Road, about one-third of a mile from his office, a car pulled in front of Boulis' BMW and slowed to a stop, forcing Boulis to stop, police said.
   A northbound black Ford Mustang, thought to be a 1990s model with temporary tags, pulled alongside and stopped next to Boulis' driver's side window. The driver of the Mustang fired a semi-automatic weapon through the BMW's open window, hitting Boulis at least three times in the upper body, Reed said.
   "More shots were fired than hit him," Reed said.
   Boulis apparently saw the gun and put his left hand up to defend himself because he had gunpowder residue on his hand. He also had graze wounds on his head and shoulder.
    Three shell casings were found on the street where the shooting took place, though police would not identify the make of the gun used or its caliber.
   Alex Kemeter, who lives just 75 feet from the shooting scene, said he heard two or three shots. A woman who also lives near the corner of Miami Road and 20th Street said she didn't hear any shots but did hear a scream.
   "I heard a scream like I have never heard in my life," Helen Ferris said. "It was just one big scream. I can't even describe it."
   When the shooting stopped, the driver of the Mustang headed north toward 17th Street and the other car went south, Reed said.
   The only witness to the shooting, whom police did not identify, said he saw one man in the Mustang but could not see the car in front of Boulis, Bronson said.
   "We have several peripheral witnesses saying between three and five shots were fired, but he was the only witness to the shooting," Bronson said.
   Though mortally wounded, Boulis managed to drive south one block to 21st Street, then west to Federal Highway. He turned north on Federal, swerved across the median at 18th Street and crashed into a tree on the west side of Federal just south of 17th Street, near a Burger King, Reed said.
   Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue received a report of a car crash at 9:17 p.m., said Division Chief Dennis Sheehan. Paramedics pulled up at 9:21 p.m. As they pulled Boulis from the wrecked car, they saw that he had been shot several times.
   Boulis was in cardiac arrest when he was placed in the ambulance for the short trip to Broward General Medical Center.
    Boulis was wheeled into an operating room where trauma surgeon Dr. Moshe Stav and thoracic surgeon Dr. Eugene Costantini went to work on his wounds, said hospital spokeswoman Sara Howley. Boulis died on the operating table at 10:20 p.m.
   On Wednesday, Boulis' friends and family posted a $100,000 reward and CrimeStoppers added another $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.
   Police asked anyone with information to call Detective Art Carbo at 954-828-6014, Detective Jack King at 954-5544 or Broward CrimeStoppers at 954-493-8477.
   Staff Writers Vicky Agnew and Jeff Shields contributed to this report. Ardy Friedberg can be reached at afriedberg@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4843.
   

   

     

Boulis lived a volatile, unlikely success story.
By JEFF SHIELDS and TANYA WEINBERG Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 11:34 p.m. Feb. 7, 2001

The violent end to the fantastically large life of Greek tycoon Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis leaves investigators with an army of enemies and a legion of friends to question as they tackle the daunting job of discovering who killed him.
   Boulis, whose improbable success story -- a virtual American fairy tale -- began when he jumped a Greek freighter in Nova Scotia 33 years ago, was gunned down in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday night as his legal and financial troubles were reaching a crescendo.
   At the time of his slaying, the former dishwasher who built a multimillion-dollar empire of fast-food chains, casino ships and resorts had been demonized by his business partners, abandoned by local politicians and accused of breaking a secret deal with the government to get out of the gambling business.
   "He was a person who liked to play by his rules alone," said Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti, who drafted Boulis to help rebuild her city's beachfront but only last week said she no longer wanted to do business with him. "He could be extremely engaging, very charming and open, and very dominant and domineering," she said.
   A tireless, personable and hands-on businessman, Boulis had built a fortune -- he once put his net worth at $95 million -- on the Miami Subs restaurant chain, parlaying some of his money in successful hotels and the SunCruz Casino, which almost single-handedly created a "cruise to nowhere" gambling industry in Florida.
   He was famously generous, friends say, doling out gifts to the Greek Orthodox Church, the American Cancer Society and Kids in Distress. And he was fun. On the first Wednesday of each month, he treated church members and friends to a free night of food, music and gambling on his SunCruz VI in Hollywood, drawing Greeks from all around.
   "Gus was just a very gregarious, fun guy to be around," said friend and business associate Donald Wright, a retired chairman and CEO of SunTrust Credit Corp., who helped finance some of Boulis' ventures. "He was one of the most imaginative and most dynamic people I've ever met," Wright said.
   But everywhere Boulis went, in his personal and business affairs, he left a messy trail. His wife, who lives in Greece, filed for divorce, he was charged with threatening to kill his Florida girlfriend, sued by myriad business partners, and accused of promising to kill the man who bought his SunCruz Casino.
   "Hey, there's a list an arm long," said Myron Burnstein, who has pursued Boulis and SunCruz as a special counsel for Attorney General Bob Butterworth.
   Boulis' recent troubles centered on his $147 million sale of SunCruz Casino in September to a partnership headed by Dial-A-Mattress founder Adam Kidan. The ink had hardly dried on their sale agreement before Boulis accused Kidan of stealing his money, Kidan accused Boulis of stealing his slot machines, and former Boulis partners in Tampa and Jacksonville said both Boulis and Kidan cheated them out of their interests.
   A meeting between Kidan and Boulis erupted in a wrestling match, in which Kidan said Boulis tried to stab him with a pen, punched and kicked him, and promised to kill him. Kidan, who called Boulis "an animal" said this week that he thought Boulis was actively trying have him killed.
   Kidan said Monday that he hired private investigators to compile a "risk assessment" that concluded Boulis was dangerous. But he also said last week that he would not be intimidated by Boulis.
   "This man has finally met his match," Kidan said at the time. "We're not taking this lying down."
   Kidan, who is in Israel on business, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
   Boulis only sold SunCruz because the federal government forced him into it, and even the sale set prosecutors on him once again.
   Boulis admitted last February to concealing his ownership in two of his companies, Dream USA and Dream Boat Inc., trying to hide the fact that he was not a U.S. citizen when he bought six SunCruz ships in 1994. U.S. laws require such vessels to be owned by corporations whose president and board chairman are U.S. citizens. Boulis became a citizen in March 1997.
   Boulis' plea to the charges, in which his companies were fined $500,000 and he was fined an additional $500,000, was sealed. Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office nor Boulis' attorney would explain why the case was sealed.
   Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Davenport has asked U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz to unseal the document because Boulis violated the terms of his settlement by retaining a 10 percent interest in SunCruz through his company, Shake Consulting, a partnership formed in the Caribbean nation of Nevis.Despite his problems, Boulis never showed the strain in public, said his longtime friend, Greg Karan, who only Monday was being deposed in one of five lawsuits surrounding the SunCruz deal.
   "Every day the big smile, welcoming his customers and employees," recalled Karan, an executive vice president with SunCruz before and after the sale. "His constant go-go-go approach to his business, his customers, that's what motivated him every day."
   Karan started working for Boulis at one of his Mr. Submarine sandwich shops when he was 15.
   Boulis, who skipped off a Greek freighter in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1968, moved to Toronto and worked his way up from dishwasher to partner at a submarine shop within months.
   Several years later he built Mr. Submarine into a near 200-store chain. When he came to South Florida in 1979, his idea was to retire, but he succumbed to his urge to keep building a business empire.
   As he built hotels and restaurants, his Miami Subs chain, and eventually SunCruz, he left a wake of ex-associates and political foes. Yet Boulis remained focused on expanding his businesses, sometimes under heavy financial burden.
   "He was constantly in motion," said John Steffey, who captained Sun-Cruz's Hollywood ship until four months ago when Boulis sold out. "It was nothing to put in an 18-, 20-hour day, or more."
   When Boulis was at the Hollywood casino ship, one of 11 in his chain, he was constantly on his cell phone, checking on his other businesses or talking with his lawyers. Yet he remained involved at every level of all his businesses.
   "He was the kind of guy who would pull the line for me when we were ready to go," said Steffey.
   Boulis' expectations of hands-on involvement from high-ranking employees at times earned him criticism on the business pages from executives who left or were ousted from the Miami Subs chain before he sold the company in 1998. There were also reports of explosive tirades directed at top staff.
   Other Boulis employees professed admiration and affection for their boss.
   "He's a man of great imagination," said Steffey.
   And Boulis doted on his two young sons who he at times brought by the ship, Steffey and Karan said.
   In October 1997, the boys' mother and Boulis' longtime girlfriend Margaret Hren obtained a restraining order against him after she accused him of beating her and threatening her life. Two months later, Fort Lauderdale police arrested Boulis after Hren complained of persistent harassing phone calls.
   At the time, Boulis was also going through a divorce from his Greek-born wife, Efrosini "Frances" Boulis, whom he married in 1971 to evade immigration efforts to deport him, a 2000 Forbes magazine profile said. The two were separated in 1976. She asked for half of Boulis' assets, which were estimated at $95 million in 1995, then $46 million in his divorce papers in 1998. The couple have two grown sons in Greece.
   When Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne teamed up in a 1998 raid on his ships, claiming SunCruz was conducting gambling before it reached the three-mile limit off shore, Boulis was not deterred. He immediately sent employees to bring down another ship to his most successful port, and business resumed the following day, Steffey said.
   "He always prevailed," said Steffey. "Not until yesterday did anybody really stop Gus."
   Staff Writers Vicky Agnew and Andreas Tzortzis contributed to this report.
   Jeff Shields can be reached at jshields@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7921.
   

     

Fate of Boulis' hotel developments in Broward uncertain
By TOM STIEGHORST Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 11:34 p.m. Feb. 7, 2001

    The future of several large Broward County hotel projects seemed up in the air on Wednesday after the violent death of Gus Boulis.
    Best known for building the Miami Subs fast-food chain and the SunCruz Casino fleet, Boulis had made hotel development the focus of his business in the past year.
    His biggest pending projects were both in Hollywood, the 450-room Diamond on the Beach project on a prime city-owned site and a $25 million renovation of the Howard Johnson hotel.
   "He had a lot of faith in Hollywood, and believed we were going to be the next Miami Beach," Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti said Wednesday. "He had a grand design, I assume."
   Boulis proposed the Diamond on the Beach project in 1997 and sold a part interest to developer R. Donohue Peebles in 1998 after legal troubles made it difficult for him to get financing alone.
   The city later revoked the developers' lease on the site, only to have that action overturned by a judge last year.
   A new hotel agreement was in the works until last week when new revelations again soured city commissioners on doing business with Boulis.
    First, Adam Kidan, who with two partners bought 90 percent of SunCruz, said Boulis threatened to kill him after Kidan fired Boulis' employees. The U.S. Attorney's Office then charged Boulis had violated a sealed settlement that required him to divest all ownership in SunCruz, leading Giulianti to call for his ouster from the Diamond project.
   On Wednesday, Giulianti said the city has "to put things on hold for awhile" to figure out how Boulis' death will affect the Diamond on the Beach partnership.
   Peebles said it was the wrong time to discuss the fate of the $68 million project. "Instead we would like to offer our condolences to his family, children and friends," he said.
    Boulis was also a partner in two hotels proposed by Boca Raton businessman Nick Economos. In July, they bought the 242-room Howard Johnson Hollywood Beach. They told the city they planned to spend $25 million to $30 million to refurbish it and change it to a Courtyard by Marriott.
    In November, another partnership, led by Economos and including Boulis, filed plans with Fort Lauderdale to build a 275-room Courtyard by Marriott opposite the Broward County Convention Center. Economos declined to comment on Wednesday.
    Boulis had renewed his interest in hotels after selling SunCruz to a Washington, D.C., business group in September for $147 million.
   The day-cruise operation was Florida's largest gambling cruise firm, with 10 ships in the state and one in South Carolina.
    The second-largest ship, the 600-passenger Sun Cruz VI, was berthed at Martha's restaurant along the Intracoastal Waterway in Hollywood, where it was a constant source of irritation to neighbors. On Wednesday, the new owners of SunCruz said they were shocked and saddened.
    "None of our more than 1,150 employees would be here without the hard work and vision of Gus Boulis," chief executive officer David Hughes said in a press statement.
    SunCruz was founded in 1994 after Boulis stepped down as president of Miami Subs, a fast-food restaurant chain he built out of the ashes of a failed Mexican chain. Miami Subs grew quickly after Boulis became chairman of QSR Inc., the holding company for Taco Viva, in 1990.
    By the time he sold Miami Subs to Nathan's Famous Inc. for $14 million in 1999, there were 192 Miami Subs restaurants.
    Boulis had owned about 200 Mr. Submarine sandwich shops in Canada before moving to the Florida Keys in 1977. He moved to Hollywood in 1985.

   Staff Writer Kai Hill contributed to this report. Tom Stieghorst can be reached at tstieghorst@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5008.
   

     

Miami Subs, SunCruz founder gunned down; $100,000 reward posted
By SHANNON O'BOYE, Sun-Sentinel, and sun-sentinel.com       
Web-posted: 12:14 a.m. Feb. 7, 2001

Updated 4 p.m. on Wednesday
     FORT LAUDERDALE -- Gus Boulis, founder of the Miami Subs restaurant chain and the SunCruz casino cruise empire, was ambushed and killed while driving on an isolated road Tuesday night in what police said looked like a professional killing.
     "They probably knew who he was," police spokesman Detective Mike Reed said of the gunmen and ambush-style shooting. "They were probably waiting. This victim was set up."
     Police said they are investigating whether the shooting death of Boulis was connected to some bitter business disputes, including one where he allegedly threatened one of SunCruz's new owners.
      The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office Wednesday afternoon reported that Boulis died from several gun shot wounds to the upper torso.
     The are still no suspects or a motive in the murder, and the investigation is continuing, Reed said.
     Also Wednesday afternoon, Boulis' Atlantia Holdings announced it was posting a $100,000 reward in the case.
      "We are shocked and horrified at Gus Boulisí apparent murder. This act was not only a heinous crime but also a terrible tragedy for all of us," company spokesman Charles Wells said in a prepared statement. "Our sympathies and prayers are with Gusí family and those close to him.
      "Our top priority is to assist police in finding the individual or individuals responsible for Gusí death, and we pledge to concentrate all of our resources in this effort. A $100,000 reward has been established with the Crime Stoppers of Broward County for any information leading to apprehension and conviction of those responsible," the statement said.
     Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, 51, had been at the center of controversy recently after being forced to give up majority ownership in the SunCruz gambling ships spread throughout South Florida.
      After meeting late with a business associate, police said Boulis left his office on the 900 block of Southeast 17th Street around 9:10 p.m. Tuesday and was believed headed to his home in Hollywood. One of the exits from the parking lot exits directly onto South Miami Road.
      He drove south in his newer model BMW and reached the 2000 block of Miami Road about 9:15 p.m. when a vehicle in front of him slowed, then stopped for no reason, witnesses told police.
      One or two men in a dark-colored Ford Mustang, which was headed north on the two-lane street, then pulled alongside Boulis' car so the drivers were face to face. The driver of the Mustang pulled out a gun and fired at least four shots at Boulis.
     "It sounds like it was well-planned," said Reed. "This was no road rage."
     After the shooting, the Mustang, which had a temporary paper tag, continued north, while the other car sped off south. Police had no description of the car that stopped in front of the BMW.
      Boulis made it a few blocks before crashing into a tree on Federal Highway/U.S. 1 near Southeast 17th Street. The smashed-up vehicle sat in the southbound lanes of Federal facing north late Tuesday night.
      The car, ironically, came to rest in front of a Miami Subs, the restaurant chain he founded and is now controlled by Nathan's Famous, the hot-dog vendor.
      Police and rescue workers found Boulis slumped in the driver's seat of the BMW. He was bleeding profusely, Reed said. He was taken to Broward General Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
     Police were poring over the two crime scenes looking for clues, Reed said, one at Miami Road and Southeast 20th Street and one at Federal/U.S. 1 and Southeast 17th Street.
     Witnesses are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477 or Fort Lauderdale Police at 954-828-5700.
      Boulis' American dream began in 1968 when, as a young fisherman, he jumped ship in Canada and took a job in a Mr. Submarine sandwich shop in Toronto. Soon, the owners offered him control of one of their stores and, eventually, a share in the company.
     The company was sold in the late 1970s and Boulis moved to the Keys. Bored with early retirement, he opened a Mr. Submarine in Key West in 1983 and, in 1989, began Miami Subs, which gained local fame for offering $99 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne along with its sandwiches.
      He often sold franchises to friends and other Greek immigrants without requiring a down payment.
      "We're all just deeply saddened," said Jerry Woda, Miami Subs' senior vice president. "We knew he was a controversial figure, but a lot of the good things he did did not show up in the media. He was a guy that gave you the shirt off his back.
     Nathan's Famous, the New York hot dog chain, purchased Miami Subs in 1999. Boulis received $4.2 million. The chain now has 150 restaurants in 12 states and three foreign countries.
      In 1994, he started SunCruz in 1994 and made it into the state's largest casino ship business.
      SunCruz's gambling voyages to nowhere has operations in Hollywood, Key Largo, Hollywood, Port Canaveral, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers and Tampa.
      SunCruz' 10 boats are part of the growing "cruise to nowhere" industry in which boats sail from U.S. ports out three miles into international waters, where no laws exist against gambling.
      Federal prosecutors forced Boulis to sell his lucrative SunCruz Casino last year and wanted him punished recently for violating his promise to stay out of the "cruise to nowhere" industry forever, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.
     The U.S. Attorney's Office accused Boulis of flouting the deal he made last year with the government -- previously under court seal -- in which prosecutors dropped civil charges against Boulis' companies, Dream USA Inc. and Dream Boat Inc.
     The companies admitted concealing Boulis' ownership in six SunCruz Casino boats because Boulis was not a U.S. citizen at the time and could not legally own such an operation.
     In return, Boulis agreed to sell all of his interests in SunCruz Casino and related companies within three years and pay a $500,000 fine.
     Boulis sold SunCruz in September to a group of investors headed by Adam Kidan, the founder of Dial-A-Mattress. As part of the sale, Boulis retained 10 percent of SunCruz through his company, Shake Consulting, and the new owners agreed to pay Shake $250,000 a year so he would not open a competing business.
     In a Jan. 19 motion to hold Boulis in contempt of court, the government said Boulis defrauded both the government and Kidan by failing to get out of the gambling boat business as he agreed to do in his divestiture agreement with prosecutors.
     Boulis' new troubles with the federal government added to a daunting list of problems for the Greek immigrant. Boulis' deal with Kidan has descended into at least four lawsuits and a Dec. 5 altercation in which Kidan accused Boulis of punching and kicking him and trying to stab him with a pen. Boulis was forbidden by a restraining order from going within 500 feet of Kidan or SunCruz property.
     Anyone who's had a past with Mr. Boulis ... we'll be talking to," Detective Reed said. He said the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies are being asked for assistance in identifying Boulis' enemies.