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.

They drove on toward Golden Beach without incident, and Lugo called Griga from his cell phone to ask if they could stop by. No problem. Lugo shoved a CD into the car stereo and played the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane." Now they had a soundtrack for the mission as they drove through the security gate. From the back seat Sabina watched the men exchange glances and grins. She'd never seen them look so happy.

When they arrived at the house, the two men quickly got out of the car. She saw Lugo, who was carrying a laptop computer in one hand, stick a gun into the waistband of his nylon sports pants with the other. As he and Doorbal approached the front door, Lugo clumsily knocked over a garbage can. Krisztina answered the door.

Sabina waited nervously for five, ten, fifteen minutes. She imagined the plan unfolding inside the house: Doorbal would take care of the woman while Lugo handled Griga. But the garage door never opened. Instead Lugo and Doorbal came out empty-handed.

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

"We should have done it! We should have done it!" Doorbal yelled on the drive back to Miami Lakes. No, argued Lugo, the timing wasn't right. But he had a new plan. He got on the cell phone again and called Griga to invite him and Krisztina to dinner that evening. They could meet in Miami Lakes, at Shula's Steak House, and talk over the Interling deal.

Griga accepted the invitation for dinner, even though the computer he'd just received as a gift seemed odd to him, inappropriate. He'd sat through plenty of preliminary business discussions over the years, and had never been rewarded like this. He called Attila Weiland for an explanation. Weiland in turn called Doorbal, who assured him the computer was merely an expression of their desire to do business, that they really liked the guy.

After Griga heard back from Weiland, he remained unsure. The gesture was over the top, but he and Krisztina would still join the two businessmen at Shula's. Who, after all, looks a gift horse in the mouth?

That evening, before dinner, Sabina sat on Doorbal's couch as Lugo explained her role to her. When the foursome returned from the steak house, Sabina was to pretend she was Lugo's Russian wife. She would befriend Krisztina, "make her feel good," until the men lured Griga into another room to take him down.

Sabina waited for hours. Lugo showed up at midnight alone, looking "distressed" and saying the dinner went well but he'd had a fight with Doorbal. Yet another mission aborted.

Over the next few days, Griga studied the Interling International corporate information package. He even ran the proposal by a stockbroker friend for his opinion. Lugo and Doorbal appeared well-off, the investment looked solid, and Lugo seemed to have an excellent grasp of the stock market and finances. Griga decided he'd meet again with the musclebound businessmen.

On the morning of Wednesday, May 24, 1995, Griga traveled to Allied Marine in Fort Lauderdale, where he bought $800 in Jet Ski accessories -- helmets, a kidney belt, a case of marine oil. At 6:30 p.m. he went to the Johnson Street boat ramp in Hollywood Beach with Lloyd Alvarez, a friend who sold and worked on personal watercraft. Alvarez dropped him off to take delivery of a $6000 Sea-Doo XP800, then drove back to the house to meet him after a test ride down the inland waterway to his back-yard dock. When Griga rode up with the Sea-Doo, Krisztina took it out for a spin before they hoisted it out of the water.

At about 8:00 p.m., Alvarez met two visitors, Danny and Adrian, who'd come by the house to accompany Frank and Krisztina to dinner. While Griga went upstairs to change, the men downstairs discussed Jet Skis and electronics. Lugo and Doorbal were fascinated by Alvarez's digital beeper and its displays. They talked about owning a fledgling watercraft business of their own, and asked Alvarez for his business card.

Some 45 minutes later, Krisztina and Griga came downstairs. She was wearing a red-leather miniskirt and jacket with a large gold eagle embossed on the back. She also wore red heels and carried a matching red-leather handbag. Griga wore a blue-denim shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. But just as they were departing, someone knocked on the door. It was neighbor Judi Bartusz, out walking her dog. She'd seen all the cars and stopped by to say hello. She knew Lloyd Alvarez and was introduced to Lugo and Doorbal, guys with a phone deal in South Asia. Griga said he'd be sure to tell Judi's husband Gabor more about it after tonight's business dinner.

And more company came: Eszter Toth, the Hungarian housekeeper, unexpectedly arrived with her four-year-old. She too deserved an introduction. Then the phone rang; it was Griga's stockbroker friend. No, he couldn't join them for dinner; he was tied up with work. But he'd speak to Griga tomorrow about the Interling deal.

Griga began to usher the small crowd out of his foyer. "Happy Birthday" banners from the surprise party still hung from the ceiling in the dining room. He patted the dog, Chopin, goodbye, then got into the Lamborghini Diablo with Krisztina, and followed Doorbal and Lugo to Shula's Steak House.

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