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Miami Subs restaurant chain founder Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis of Hollywood, Fla., is suffering some legal headaches as a result of unloading his controversial “cruise to nowhere” gambling businesses. From the early 1990s until last September, Boulis owned and operated at least 11 casino boats through nine or more corporations, including SunCruz Casino Ltd. His boats carried thousands of gamblers beyond Florida’s territorial limits to international waters, where relieving them of their money in games of chance is entirely legal. But since Boulis sold his boats and gambling businesses last year, he’s landed in Broward Circuit Court, both as plaintiff and defendant, in at least three lawsuits. In December, Boulis’ former partner in a South Carolina gambling operation, H. DeWayne Williams of Mayport, Fla., filed suit, alleging that Boulis fraudulently sold his share of their business, Ventures Carolina Inc., in violation of their business agreement. Boulis had sold his share of Ventures Carolina Inc., his boats and other interests to Adam R. Kidan of Washington, D.C., and Dania Beach, Fla.-based JAB America Inc. for at least $88 million. Then, in January, Boulis filed a pair of actions against Kidan and JAB, who by then were operating Boulis’ gambling operations as SunCruz Casinos LLC, based in Dania Beach. In one of the suits, Boulis seeks $10 million from SunCruz for allegedly misappropriating cash from the gambling machines and other assets, such as inventories of food and supplies. These were not included in the purchase agreement signed in September. Boulis’ interests in the South Carolina operations began around August 1999. Williams had a gambling cruise business of his own in Little River, S.C. It was so successful that his customers were overflowing his 350-person boat. To add more gamblers, Williams approached Boulis, an acquaintance through a day cruise association, about leasing a bigger boat. Boulis agreed to lease Williams his 600-person M/V SunCruz VII boat, enabling Williams to add 250 gamblers per cruise. They soon discussed a permanent joint venture, under which Boulis would take over day-to-day operations on the SunCruz VII. They signed a deal last March, and agreed to split the profits 50-50. The deal barred either man from selling his interest without giving the other first option to buy. Williams and his attorney allege Boulis evaded that restriction by deceiving Williams and convincing him to amend the joint venture agreement. Jim Carroll, a partner at Conrad & Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the firm representing Williams, says Boulis told Williams last July that he had “problems with the federal authorities” and that he had “financial problems” in relation to that. To remedy his financial difficulties, Boulis told Williams he needed to use his interest in the South Carolina cruise business as collateral for a loan, according to court records. Williams agreed to amend the joint venture agreement to allow that. But in September, Williams learned second-hand that he had new partners, Carroll said. Boulis had sold his interests in the South Carolina operation, along with SunCruz Casino Ltd., to Kidan and JAB America Inc. Williams and his new partners got off to a bad start. Carroll says Kidan fired all of Williams’ employees and withheld Williams’ share of the profits. The last monthly check Williams received was in September. In his December suit, Williams alleged that Boulis misrepresented his financial situation to evade the buyout clause of their agreement. Boulis’ office directed inquiries to his attorneys, Marty L. Steinberg and Stephen S. Stallings of Miami, Fla.’s Hunton & Williams. Steinberg and Stallings, in a conference call, denied the allegation that Boulis engaged in any misrepresentations. After getting Williams to modify their agreement, Boulis sold Kidan and JAB America his Florida and South Carolina gambling interests for $65 million in cash plus a $23 million equity contribution to SunCruz. But in one of his lawsuits against Kidan, Boulis alleged that Kidan never paid the $23 million. According to court records, he also accused Kidan of appropriating assets that were not covered in the purchase agreement. Kidan’s office directed a reporter’s calls to Mike Scanlon, spokesman for SunCruz Casinos, who says Boulis’ suit against Kidan and JAB is without merit. “The case that Mr. Boulis filed against SunCruz is for one reason and one reason only: Mr. Boulis is broke and he can’t afford to pay millions of dollars worth of fines he owes to federal authorities,” Scanlon said. However, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami said Boulis has satisfied fines totaling $2 million. The fines stem from a February 2000 plea agreement that resolved a case in which Boulis was accused of illegally registering boats in violation of the Shipping Act. As for Scanlon’s charges that Boulis is broke, Steinberg said, “absolute, total hogwash.” “It has nothing to do with Mr. Boulis’ financial condition — which is fine as far as we know — this has to go with getting paid,” Steinberg said. He said Kidan and JAB failed to complete the terms of the sale. In a separate lawsuit, Boulis seeks a temporary injunction against Kidan and JAB for allegedly obstructing the operations of Shake Consulting, a member of SunCruz Casinos LLC and an entity in which Boulis has an interest. In that request for an injunction, Boulis alleged that a Shake accountant was twice denied access to SunCruz records. Boulis’ complaint accuses Kidan of mismanagement, alleging that he wrote bad checks and stole money and other property belonging to Shake and Boulis. Stallings declined to specify the nature or extent of Boulis’ interest, but Steinberg said Shake has an interest of “between 10 and 20 percent” in SunCruz and thus has “an absolute right” to inspect the books. Williams is also suing Kidan, whom he also accuses of illicitly taking $250,000 in cash from Williams’ gambling operations in South Carolina. Scanlon, the SunCruz spokesman, contends that Williams is suing SunCruz solely because it’s the deep pocket. “Mr. Williams has now realized that he is drilling a dry well [in suing Boulis],” Scanlon said. According to Williams, Boulis is now out of the gambling cruise business completely. Williams says he doesn’t blame Boulis for wanting out. “It’s a tough business these days,” Williams complained, citing increased legal headaches and competition from other boats, Indian reservations and the Internet. But Williams said he would have worked with Boulis had Boulis indicated he wanted out of the joint venture, which included a buyout provision with a pre-arranged price. “Gus and I always got along,” Williams said. “We wouldn’t have had any problems [with his divestiture] had he presented it to me prior to the sale.”

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