Pain & Gain, Part 3

A wealthy couple disappears, the slumbering Metro-Dade Police Department awakens, and the ghastly deeds of Miami's Sun Gym gang at last come to an end.

The trial began on February 24, 1998, and for nearly ten weeks the prosecution laid out its case. It was the longest, most expensive criminal trial in Dade County history, and featured more than 1200 pieces of physical evidence and 98 witnesses, including Marc Schiller, who'd been flown up numerous times to help in preparations. His courtroom testimony was crucial. When the prosecution rested, Lugo's and Doorbal's attorneys chose not to present a defense. John Mese's public defender called just one witness. None of the defendants took the stand.

On May 4 of that year, Lugo's jury convicted him of the two murders, as well as sixteen other charges, including racketeering, kidnapping, attempted extortion, theft, attempted murder, armed robbery, burglary, money laundering, and forgery. Doorbal also was found guilty of the two murders, plus thirteen additional charges. On June 1 Doorbal's jury deliberated just fourteen minutes before recommending death. A week later Lugo's panel voted for the death penalty, too. It took them all of eighteen minutes to decide.

John Mese was convicted on 39 felony counts, including two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, racketeering, and multiple counts of money laundering, fraudulent notary, and forgery. On the eve of the trial, the prosecution had offered him a plea bargain: nine years in state prison (he'd already served two and a half years in the county jail since his arrest). Mese rejected the deal and on July 21, Judge Ferrer, who overturned the racketeering and murder convictions citing insufficient evidence, sentenced the accountant to 56 years.

... but he mentioned nothing about missing appendages
... but he mentioned nothing about missing appendages

When the juries' death-penalty votes came in, prosecutor Gail Levine invited Schiller back to Miami for the final round of arguments before Judge Ferrer, whose duty it would be to make a final determination on the recommendations. Schiller's own attorney advised him that the trip was unnecessary; he'd flown to Miami nearly a dozen times already since June 1995. He'd met with police and prosecutors, provided depositions, sat in on hearings, and offered his testimony at trial. The death sentence was as good as delivered. But Schiller looked at his roundtrip ticket and saw the final step in his long journey of betrayal, humiliation, pain, and survival. He was going to put Lugo and Doorbal on death row.

The death-penalty hearing took place July 8. First on Judge Ferrer's docket was a petition by Adrian Doorbal to marry the secretary he'd been seeing throughout his incarceration. Denied. Doorbal still had $700,000 of Schiller's money in a Smith Barney account, and the judge didn't want any marital claims to impede the transfer of funds.

And at long last it was Schiller's time to stand before his kidnappers, who sat shackled and handcuffed. He spoke eloquently and in agonizing detail of the weeks he'd spent in captivity, handcuffed and blindfolded. He spoke of his family's suffering, and the scars he still held. The kidnapping and torture had ruined him in every way imaginable. He could no longer visit clients. He could no longer trust a soul in this world. His wife, a frail woman to begin with, was now in failing health, a mere 84 pounds. How could human beings commit such heinous crimes? He would never understand, but he knew one thing: Neither man -- not Jorge Delgado either -- deserved to live in society again.

Schiller finished his statement and said quiet farewells to his attorney and the prosecutors with whom he'd worked for the past three years. With one quick glance back at the defendants, he walked out of the courtroom. A victim, a survivor, he had done his duty.

Outside again in the sultry air, Schiller paused on the courthouse steps. In that brief instant he heard the voices. Men were shouting. Commanding him to stop! Puzzled he turned just as they closed in around him. The old panic surged. And for the second time in his life, Schiller was grabbed and taken away.

The news broke over Miami later that day: Marc Schiller was a wanted man. He'd been a target all along, ever since the arrest of the Sun Gym gang, but the feds had patiently waited until he'd done his business in the courthouse, two birds with one stone, as the saying went.

FBI agents arrested Schiller on charges of orchestrating a fraudulent Medicare billing scheme that generated somewhere around $14 million. He now faced up to 25 years in prison, ten years more than his nemesis Delgado had received for kidnapping and murder.

Yet Schiller's thoughts were not with Delgado in the blurred hours that followed. He was thinking about Assistant State Attorney Gail Levine, and all he could think was that she had sold him out. For three years she had used him, forced him to relive every excruciating detail of his confinement: the starvation, the burns and electric shocks, the beatings, the abject terror, the absolute physical and psychological mortification. She had extracted everything she could, and then she had disposed of him. From his perspective her tactics were not so different or any less brutal than those the Sun Gym gang had employed against him. His attorney had been right. He shouldn't have returned to Miami. The death sentences came in, just as predicted. Schiller got the news while he sat in jail.

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17 comments
jossy.infante
jossy.infante

There is pure evil in this world !  Shiller survived because  he had a strong mind, that , and because the "dumb stupid fucks" are just dumb! and that's a good thing, because he'd probably be dead, like Griga and his girlfriend.  Im listening to the real pain and gain the untold story, by Marc Shiller himself, I bought the audio book. 

antoinj2010
antoinj2010

lugo and his crew were beasts,they had a dream and went for it full force with no holds bard 

opps411
opps411

opps41117 minutes ago

 what about the wives and girlfriends ( Lucretia Goodridge
 , are you honestly going to act like you didn't know your husband and father of your kids  was  sleeping with strippers and a murderer and your own cousin  Doorbal is living in your house, even after you see a guy getting tortured for days, and calling yourself a Buddhist and not reporting that .. i guess you enjoyed the finer things in life alil too much ,, some things never change .......       horrible to make a movie to desensitize the reality of these victims pain and their kids really do not deserve this.. i hope someone gets hit with a lawsuit.. and the actors    dont you guys know how to thk for yourself ..   or are just acting like mindless assholes did you read the court docs? smh  


amyamyamyamy
amyamyamyamy

Wow, fascinating article!  I have a few questions, does anyone know any answers?

What happened to the women? Daniel Lugo's ex-wife was the beneficiary on Schiller's life insurance policy - was she charged with anything? Daniel Lugo's current wife witnessed Schiller being held in the warehouse - was she charged with anything? Daniel Lugo's mistress Sabina was charged with theft of a motor vehicle - what was her sentence? Cindy Eldridge was charged as an accessory after the fact for her removal of the bloodstains from Doorbal's townhouse wall and pleaded guilty to criminal mischief - what was her sentence?

The article is curiously vague about John Mese.  Until the very end when he was sentenced to 56 years, I pictured him as a lazy notary who just signed some papers he shouldn't have.  Was he really in on the murders?  For as much detail as there is on many other areas, there is very little comment on the evidence against him.  Any explanation for the omission?

I see that Pete Collins just put out a 78-page book about this subject.  Is it just a reprinting of this article, or is there anything additional that would make it a worthwhile read?

Popcorn
Popcorn

I was really looking for an insight on how the events really happened, thanks for posting this article again. Just need to see the film now & see if it does any justice or if it's just too over the top like all the usual "Based on real events" Hollywood films.

Matthew_in_PB
Matthew_in_PB

That's so Miami. Great movie, and not at all sympathetic to Lugo and his gang.

melvinhermille
melvinhermille

Not one comment from the "officers" who mocked a kidnap and torture victim and whose stunning ineptitude and childish comportment led to the completely avoidable brutal deaths of two innocent people? 

iceberg3o5
iceberg3o5

Unfortunately i doubt that Michael Bay's movie will do this story any kind of justice. Imagine what real directors such as Scorcese, Nolan or Fincher could do with this?  Forget about it!!

mariomendoza666
mariomendoza666

~


I've never been a fan of Michael Bey... 

But, I can definitely understand why he would want to turn this story into a film...

It's a Miami myth... from way back in the day,

It's something you'd heard of through the grape vine... but never actually believed in... 

Until you saw it first hand, on the big screen....with your own eyes ?


~

charmcity7
charmcity7

Holy Crap! And then to top it off, you have a celebrity appearance by Judge Alex :-)

Brasco
Brasco

You can't even make this up if you tried. Just a beyond belief story.

mikeniner5
mikeniner5

Interesting twist there at the end with Schiller and the plea deal for medical billing fraud.  I'd like to know if he ended up ever recouping any of his stolen money, assets, belongs?

mpefun2
mpefun2

only in miami... and only in miami is no one reading the whole thing on its republishing 13 years later.

Mike
Mike

I can't even believe this story is real.  I just spent two hours reading the whole thing.  There are human beings on this planet that would do this to other human beings?  It just boggles the mind.  This story will stay with me for a long, long time. 

opps411
opps411

@amyamyamyamyopps411

17 minutes ago

 what about the wives and girlfriends ( Lucretia Goodridge
 , are you honestly going to act like you didn't know your husband and father of your kids  was  sleeping with strippers and a murderer and your own cousin  Doorbal is living in your house, even after you see a guy getting tortured for days, and calling yourself a Buddhist and not reporting that .. i guess you enjoyed the finer things in life alil too much ,, some things never change .......       horrible to make a movie to desensitize the reality of these victims pain and their kids really do not deserve this.. i hope someone gets hit with a lawsuit.. and the actors    dont you guys know how to thk for yourself ..   or are just acting like mindless assholes did you read the court docs? smh  


builder.b
builder.b

@iceberg3o5  The whole story is just too complex to put into a mere 2 1/2 hour format.  I saw it, and loved it. 

jpoppiti
jpoppiti

@Mike I was absolutely riveted and horrified by the story. Lugo and his crew should all be killed.

 
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