Pain & Gain, Part 2

Miami's Sun Gym gang developed a taste for blood and money. The police could have stopped them before they killed somebody. But they didn't.

Du Bois was right about the wolves. Lugo already had begun searching for his next victim, and this time he didn't have to look beyond Sun Gym. Winston Lee, a vegetarian from Jamaica, came in regularly to lift weights. Lee owned a prosperous auto-repair shop in Opa-locka, and though he wasn't nearly as rich as Marc Schiller, he was rich enough. And besides, he'd aggravated Doorbal, who was convinced he'd heard the Jamaican making fun of his intellect. Worse than that, Lugo said, Lee supposedly sold drugs in the black community. That was enough for Jorge Delgado. He was in. This time, though, they'd keep Stevenson Pierre and Carl Weekes out of it; they'd done nothing but prove their incompetence.

By April, Lugo had a concept. He'd borrow a uniform and truck from another member of the gym and have Delgado pose as a UPS delivery man at Lee's front door. Then Lugo and Doorbal and would rush the house when Lee opened the door. Next stop for Lee? A warehouse Lugo planned to lease in Hialeah for the next round of torture.

Penthouse model Sabina Petrescu, just before she lost her innocence
Penthouse model Sabina Petrescu, just before she lost her innocence
Daniel Lugo: An uncanny mixture of brains and brawn not always under control
Daniel Lugo: An uncanny mixture of brains and brawn not always under control

To his mistress Sabina, however, Lugo furnished a different story: The CIA wanted to capture Winston Lee, known Palestinian terrorist. And on behalf of the Company, he recruited her help. The plan gave her pause, but then she thought about her patriotism toward her new country and her gratitude toward Lugo, who'd gotten her out of stripping at Solid Gold and into a rent-free love nest. She accepted the mission.

With Sabina in the mix, Lugo devised Plan No. 2. Lugo would move her next door to Lee, and she'd befriend him using her considerable charms. Eventually she would lure him to her apartment, at which time Lugo and Doorbal would burst in and subdue him. They'd take him to an agency warehouse, where the CIA would secure him and take him away to the place where they put terrorists.

Meanwhile Lee continued his workouts at the gym, oblivious to the plans. He thought, in fact, that Lugo and Doorbal were okay guys. But the Okay Guys were staking out his Miami Lakes townhouse. They photographed the building from the road and from his shrubbery. They took pictures of every window and door, as well as closeups of his outdoor circuit-breaker box and the junctions where his phone lines ran into the house.

But the gang had to abandon Winston Lee as a target. He traveled frequently to Jamaica and they couldn't fix a date when he'd be home. Nor was Lugo able to secure a space for Sabina in the building. It was just too confusing.

Then Adrian Doorbal found another target.

Doorbal had at last won the impossibly beautiful Beatriz Weiland, the exotic dancer from Hungary who entertained at Solid Gold. His great looks and bodacious physique finally were paying off big-time. He had a gorgeous stripper -- maybe the hottest stripper in the joint! -- naked in bed. What didn't he have? An erection. The same problem that had plagued him in previous months reappeared. He paid another visit to the Coral Springs physician who specialized in treating steroid-induced impotence, received hormone injections, and soon was performing like a champ.

At Beatriz's place one day, Doorbal began leafing through a photo album. Staring out from the pages was a matronly lady lounging in front of a car as bright as the sun. The woman was Beatriz's mother, but it was the car that caught Doorbal's attention. Who owns it? he asked. Beatriz pointed to another photo in the album and identified the owner, a fellow Hungarian named Frank Griga. He'd been one of her lovers and she still spoke of him affectionately. Griga had achieved fantastic wealth through the phone-sex business, and was the most generous man she'd ever known. The sun-bright car was his $250,000, 1991 Lamborghini Diablo.

The son of a Hungarian diplomat, Griga was born in Berlin in 1961. He moved to New York City in the mid-Eighties, working first as a car washer then as a foreign-car mechanic. But he wasn't destined to toil under a hood. In 1988 he moved to Miami and got a job in sales at Prestige Imports, a luxury-car dealership in North Miami Beach. Working among all those gleaming machines -- Lotuses, Ferraris, Mercedes, Rolls-Royces -- proved frustrating, however. He wanted to own them, not sell them.

Socially active in Miami's tiny Hungarian community, Griga joined a group of local investors, some of whom he'd known from childhood, in the burgeoning 800- and 900-number phone-line markets. He began with 976-CARS, which charged callers for information on used autos. Next he delved into weather-information lines for boaters and surfers. Even more profitable were the 976-SEX lines he established with Hungarian friend Gabor Bartusz. They advertised their services in Penthouse and Hustler, and callers spent up to five dollars per minute to engage in sexually explicit conversations with telephone actors and actresses. Some of Griga's girlfriends appeared in the advertisements, as did some of his cars. Many Hungarians in Miami thought he was the Alexander Graham Bell of phone sex. The business earned Griga and Bartusz a fortune. In 1994 alone, they took in three million dollars.

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