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.

In fact the State Attorney's Office had been aware of the federal investigation for at least three years. Fourteen months before the trial began, in October 1996, prosecutor Gail Levine had written a memo to her supervisor addressing the fact that federal prosecutors were targeting Schiller, almost to the exclusion of any other potential Medicare fraud defendants. The feds, she wrote, "just seem like they will plead everyone out -- but Schiller. That's the only person they care about....


On July 17, 1998, more than three years after the murders were committed, Judge Ferrer sentenced Lugo and Doorbal. They each received two death sentences for the murders of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton, and consecutive sentences for all the other crimes for which they had been convicted.

Judge Alex Ferrer stepped up to the plate for justice
Steve Satterwhite
Judge Alex Ferrer stepped up to the plate for justice

That wasn't the end of Judge Ferrer's involvement, however. In February 1999, after Marc Schiller pleaded guilty to one federal count of false Medicare billing, the judge took the highly unusual step of providing favorable testimony at his sentencing hearing.

Such testimony from a sitting judge is extremely rare. For Ferrer it was unprecedented, but he was moved to do so out of compassion and, to a degree, admiration. Not only had Schiller demonstrated extraordinary courage and endurance in surviving the Sun Gym gang's torture and attempts to kill him, but he later proved to be indispensable in prosecuting the case against his captors. "I know we can consider anything at sentencing," Ferrer said at the hearing. "This case was a very emotional case to sit through. It still bothers me to some extent. And I know that if things were just black and white, they could have computers do our jobs. But there's something intangible about this case that makes me feel like what he went through should be given some credit, because I don't think it could have been worse if he was a prisoner of war."

Ferrer also spoke of Schiller's haunting testimony. "Schiller was obviously emotionally bothered by it," he said. "It's hard to imagine that anybody would not be emotionally distraught about what happened to him. He tried to keep a very cool composure, but ... I think even just relaying it in court was traumatic to the people that were hearing it."

On Wednesday, March 17, 1999, Marc Schiller was sentenced to 46 months in prison, the most lenient sentence available under federal guidelines.

The Sun Gym case is now closed.

Information for this story was drawn from interviews with principal characters, investigative reports, court documents, and trial testimony. This is the last part of a three-part series.

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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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