Accidental Hit Man

Sure, Paul Brandreth talks like a wiseguy. But is he a cold-blooded killer?

H. Dohn Williams, Fiorillo's Fort Lauderdale attorney, believes that Brandreth has a tie to the Boulis case. But he says it's much more direct. The Bronx thug drove the truck that cut in front of the Miami Subs founder before the shooting, he claims. He offers no evidence other than his client's word. "[Brandreth] was driving that blocking vehicle," Williams asserts. Although the lawyer says the truth will come out at trial, Brandreth has not been charged in the Boulis homicide.

Brandreth's lawyer, Michael Walsh, acknowledges that his client drove the truck. But, he says, the accused killers handed over the keys several months after the Boulis slaying, possibly to frame Brandreth. "He didn't know that was the car involved in the Boulis murder," Walsh says.

In the months that followed, Brandreth says, he did the usual: dealt drugs, partied on the Beach, and hung out at strip joints; Gold Rush, a club on NE 11th Street, was his favorite. He says he had two girlfriends at the time, a stripper named Natalie and his steady, Lisa.

Boulis with friends before his murder
Boulis with friends before his murder
Paul Brandreth in late January 2008, when he spoke with New Times at the Metro West Detention Center in Miami-Dade County
Marco Kornfeld
Paul Brandreth in late January 2008, when he spoke with New Times at the Metro West Detention Center in Miami-Dade County

"He was always nice, great around the house," gushes Arlene Ellis, Natalie's mother. "He's had a hard life... I think that's why he took to us so much. He just wanted a family."

Adds Lisa: "Paulie has a big heart. If you didn't have anything to eat, he would give you his food."

Brandreth's brother died of an OxyContin overdose in New York on September 8, 2001. "Keith was all I had in the whole world," Brandreth says. The funeral, he recalls, was on Long Island the morning of September 11, and he watched smoke rise from the Twin Towers.

Lisa was at his side. So was a buddy of Brandreth's: a brown-haired, brown-eyed drug dealer named Steve Citranglo.

"Why, Paulie, why?" implored Citranglo, who was on his knees in a hallway of Thomas Lehmann's Coral Gables condo. It was around noon January 4, 2002, and Citranglo had been punched, kicked, zapped with a stun gun, and clubbed with a baton.

Lehmann, who would later recount details of the murder in a court deposition, was headed toward the injured drug dealer, ready to throw a few punches, when he spotted Brandreth pulling a black .38-caliber pistol from his waistband.

"This is for my brother, because you are a fuckin' rat," Lehmann remembers Brandreth saying.

"Fuck you and your bro," Citranglo yelled back.

That's when Lehmann heard the shot. "There was no plan to kill him," Lehmann explains. "Paul flipped out."

And so did everyone else. Ahed Hbaiu began to cry. Kevin Keneuker headed for the apartment's second-floor balcony and thought about jumping.

Lehmann left through the front door and walked down the stairs. He says he returned to find blood everywhere. "We tried to clean the best we could with what we had," he says in the deposition. "I had some kind of bleach-like shit, but it was for kitchen dishes and everything."

The four wrapped the body in a sleeping bag, a tarp, and some duct tape. At one point that afternoon, Lehmann went out and bought everyone sneakers. "We sat around waiting for it to get dark," he recalls. "Paul tells everyone to shut the fuck up, relax, it's going to be OK... When it comes down to it — excuse my language — Kevin, Eddie, and I were too big of a pussy to beat up Steve unless Paul came into the picture."

Around 5 p.m., just as night fell, Leh­mann and Brandreth carried the wrapped-up body to the parking lot. "You fuckin' killed him," Lehmann hissed. What he didn't realize was that a neighbor named Lisbet Colon was walking her dog nearby — and she thought she saw two guys carrying what looked like a body down the stairs.

They wrangled the corpse into the back of Lehmann's SUV. Lehmann and Brandreth got in and took off. Hbaiu and Keneuker followed in Lehmann's other car, a Jaguar. They headed west on Calle Ocho toward the Everglades. At one point, Lehmann recalls, a cop stopped Hbaiu and Keneuker for a faulty brake light and ticketed them.

Then they stopped at a gas station, perhaps Dade Corners, on Krome Avenue. Lehmann wanted to dump the corpse in a garbage can. "I got a body in the back seat of my car, and I'm ready to piss myself, to tell you the truth," Lehmann recalls.

Instead, the men drove a mile west, past the Miccosukee casino. Soon, they turned right onto a dirt road.

It was a cool, dark evening, and a half-moon was rising as they slid the body into the inky water. Brandreth said the alligators would eat the body. "I was hoping he was right," Lehmann says in the deposition. "I'm from New Jersey. I don't know about this place. To me, I think alligators are everywhere in the Everglades, just walking around."

Lehmann would later conjecture that Brandreth killed Citranglo for giving his brother Keith a lethal dose of drugs. Citranglo had even dealt drugs at Keith's funeral, Lehmann says in the deposition.

But, as with the story of the Boulis killing, there are problems with Lehmann's version of events. He claims Brandreth shot Citranglo four times in the back and the blood splattered everywhere. But the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office concluded that Citranglo was shot only once, at close range in the chest — which would mean there was likely little bleeding.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help