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.

"Well, you've got a refrigerator," said Du Bois. "But you don't have any other appliances, there's no furniture, all the clothes are gone, they even ripped out your Jacuzzi."

"What about the paintings?"

"The walls are bare."

Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton were on top of the world: Young, good-looking, wealthy, and whole
Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton were on top of the world: Young, good-looking, wealthy, and whole
Tools of the trade for the Sun Gym boys ...
Tools of the trade for the Sun Gym boys ...

The goods ended up at Delgado's Hialeah warehouse -- the same warehouse where they'd kept Schiller chained to a wall all those weeks. Now the gang met to divide the bounty. Doorbal got the leather furniture and the large-screen TV. Lugo took the dining-room table and some paintings. He presented them to Sabina. A few days later, when she learned it all came from that bad guy Marc Schiller's house, she said she didn't want it. But soon after that, when she flew back to Romania to tell her parents she was happy, prosperous, and engaged, Lugo moved even more loot into their apartment.

When she returned from Europe, Sabina received yet another gift from her fiancé: a black BMW station wagon. With its new VIN number, Diana Schiller's Beemer now was street-legal. Sabina was thrilled, until the rainy day when she realized she couldn't operate the wiper blade on the rear window. A sushi restaurant was nearby, and she pulled in. She could sip on some sake, she figured, while she leafed through the operator's manual. But the first thing she saw when she opened the booklet was the name "Marc Schiller" listed as owner. Flustered, she drank more sake. This was unexpected, unwelcome information. She confronted Lugo later that night. Yeah, he said, the BMW used to belong to Schiller.

Meanwhile Du Bois's wife and their children began to notice bulky strangers sitting in cars, watching their Miami Shores house. You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes, or even Watson, to find Du Bois at his Shores residence; he was listed in the phone book. But when a phone-company security supervisor alerted him that someone was trying to gain access to his records for calls to South America, he really began to worry. Did the gang think he could lead them to Schiller? He knew they were capable of anything if they wanted Schiller badly enough. And he knew they'd spent $12,000 at The Spy Shop not long ago. If they'd bought eavesdropping and surveillance equipment, were they using it on his family?

Negotiations for the return of Schiller's $1.26 million had gone nowhere; he still hadn't seen a dime. Du Bois had to admit his client was right: Lugo and Delgado never planned to return the money. The meetings and the faxes sent through Mese's office had been a stall. Now it was time to go to the police. He called Schiller first. Then he called John Mese and told him the deal was off.

Du Bois called Metro-Dade homicide Capt. Al Harper, one of his Miami Shores acquaintances and a 27-year veteran of the police department. After Harper heard the horrific story, he called Metro's elite Strategic Investigations Division. SID conducted all major investigations involving fraud, drug trafficking, contract killings, criminal conspiracy, and organized crime. SID agreed to review the case.

Du Bois's next contact was with SID Det. Kevin Long. The private investigator didn't launch right into the details; he wanted first to establish Schiller as a credible victim. Would SID prepare a polygraph for his client? As a polygraph examiner since 1974, Du Bois knew this would be the most effective demonstration that Schiller's weird, brutal story was true.

Sure, Long said, and then sat back to listen as Du Bois went over the case and what he knew of the suspects. If Schiller agreed to come back to Miami, Long said, he would see him and take the complaint. No problem, said Du Bois, but Schiller was afraid for his life and wanted to make the trip as brief as possible. They set up a three-day interview window: April 18 to 20, 1995.

On Tuesday morning, April 18, Schiller flew into Miami from Colombia and checked into the Miami International Airport Hotel under an assumed name. He brought along a Colombian relative for protection, and walked straight from the airplane to Concourse E, where the hotel is located. That afternoon Du Bois met his client for the first time. The two men shook hands, and Du Bois noted that Schiller was thin but otherwise a physically unremarkable man, except for a deep burgundy notch on his nose, a souvenir of the duct tape that had been wrapped so tightly around his head during his captivity. Schiller was invigorated by the decision to go to the police. But he also was wary, afraid he might die in Miami.

At the SID office, they were met by Sgt. Gary Porterfield, who asked Schiller to wait outside while he talked to Du Bois in his office. Du Bois handed over a copy of the case file, then began the narrative of his investigation. As Porterfield took notes, Du Bois outlined the history: Marc Schiller disappeared on the afternoon of November 14, 1994. During his captivity, he signed over everything he owned to individuals connected with Sun Gym. On December 15 he reappeared, broken, in the emergency room at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Du Bois had information on the Sun Gym members: Daniel Lugo, Adrian Doorbal, Jorge Delgado; and on Sun Gym's owner, John Mese. Others were involved as well. They'd be easy to track down and question. He also gave Porterfield a twenty-page memo and canceled checks, deed transfers, accident reports, and hospital records. And he had a copy of Lugo's federal rap sheet and divorce documents.

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