Pain & Gain: Where the Real-Life Sun Gym Gang Characters Are Now

See also: "Pain & Gain: From New Times Story to Michael Bay Film."

<i>Pain & Gain</i>: Where the Real-Life Sun Gym Gang Characters Are Now
Photography by Stian Roenning

They juiced harder than Mark McGwire, pumped iron faster than a Lamborghini Diablo's pistons, and made it rain on more strippers than Juicy J at King of Diamonds. To finance their voracious appetites, they became experts in the dark arts of kidnapping, torture, extortion, and murder.

One of their victims survived a month of sleep deprivation, Taser jolts, lighter burns, and even the coup de grâce: three days of waterboarding with sleeping pills and booze before being strapped into a blazing car. Two other victims weren't so lucky, ending up murdered and chopped to pieces with chainsaws, their body parts tossed into the Everglades.

See also: "Pain & Gain: From New Times Story to Michael Bay Film."

Adrian Doorbal was a Caribbean Adonis when he was busted for murder. Today, he's a bald death-row inmate who likes to seek out online pen pals.
Metro Dade Corrections / Florida Department of Corrections
Adrian Doorbal was a Caribbean Adonis when he was busted for murder. Today, he's a bald death-row inmate who likes to seek out online pen pals.
Daniel Lugo was the mastermind of the Sun Gym Gang. He'll die by lethal injection if the U.S. Supreme Court denies his final appeal.
Metro Dade Corrections / Florida Department of Corrections
Daniel Lugo was the mastermind of the Sun Gym Gang. He'll die by lethal injection if the U.S. Supreme Court denies his final appeal.

They were the Sun Gym Gang, and even by Magic City standards, their macabre exploits were difficult to stomach. Yet their incredible story almost went untold. Crime reporter Pete Collins couldn't find any takers for his book about the bloody spree until he pitched the tale to Miami New Times, which ran it in three installments between December 1999 and January 2000. "Pain & Gain" turned into one of the most widely read yarns in this paper's 26-year history.

Collins's tale documented how Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal kidnapped three victims, killing two of them. Once they were caught, their prosecution became the longest, most expensive case ever tried by the State Attorney's Office. More than 22 search warrants were issued. One hundred-plus witnesses were called to the stand. And 10,000 pieces of evidence were presented. The jury was sworn in on February 20, 1998, and didn't begin deliberations until four months later.

It was a tome so diabolically cinematic that it's about to become the first New Times piece to grace the silver screen. Blockbuster director Michael Bay, who lives in Miami, read the series and decided to transform it into a pitch-dark comedy. His adaptation, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, hits theaters April 26.

Before Pain & Gain hits cinemas across the country, New Times tracked down the characters who made the true story so unforgettable. Here is what's become of them two decades after the Sun Gym Gang's infamous bloodbath.

Trailer for Michael Bay's Pain & Gain:


Name: Daniel Lugo

Played by: Mark Wahlberg

Key description in the original story: "They were incredibly strong, with muscles developed to almost monstrous proportions. Lugo had a broad forehead, brilliant smile, and dark-stubbled jaw. He possessed tremendous charm and a great deal of money: a million already from an old Medicare fraud scheme and now all of [Marc] Schiller's assets."

Real-life role: Sun Gym Gang mastermind

A New York native with a smooth tongue and a disarming smile, Lugo was fresh from serving a 15-month federal prison stint for fraud when he landed at Sun Gym in 1992. He'd earned his prison time by snookering $71,200 from people who believed he could get loans from a Hong Kong bank. The bank never existed, and Lugo ran off with the cash.

At Sun Gym, a hard-core bodybuilder joint just north of Miami Lakes, Lugo quickly worked his way up to manager. He also recruited a gang of none-too-bright gym rats — led by a sadistic Trinidadian named Adrian Doorbal — to pull off a pair of brazen heists: abducting Schiller, a wealthy businessman, and six months later, kidnapping Frank Griga, a phone-sex-line millionaire, and his girlfriend, Krisztina Furton.

"Lugo was a smart-ass criminal," opines Ed Du Bois, the private investigator who helped take down the gang. "He was the brains. He wasn't some brute street guy."

Yet Lugo's plans were far from perfect. The Sun Gym Gang did manage to abduct Schiller and then tortured him for nearly a month in a Hialeah warehouse. They stole his $1.26 million offshore bank account and his $300,000 Old Cutler Road house and even changed his life insurance to benefit the gang. However, Schiller survived their torture and the bumbling, brutal, final attempt on his life.

That didn't stop the Sun Gym Gang from trying again with Griga and his girlfriend, snatching the pair during a business meeting. This time, everything went wrong. When Griga fought back, Doorbal bashed in his head. Furton was lethally dosed with horse tranquilizers. Lugo bought chainsaws and hatchets and helped Doorbal dismember the couple, chopping off their hands and feet, peeling back their faces, and ripping their teeth from their skulls to make identification impossible.

When Metro-Dade homicide detectives finally got warrants for Lugo, Doorbal, and their minions in June 1995, the mastermind fled to the Bahamas with his stripper mistress and his parents. His Caribbean escape didn't last long. On June 9, a multiagency task force flew to Nassau, arrested Lugo, and brought him back to Miami. The following day, Lugo agreed to take investigators to the bodies if cops would mention his cooperation in court. But Lugo had one more trick up his sleeve. He led them only to the bodies — not to the hands, feet, or heads.

He was convicted of racketeering, first-degree murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, burglary, robbery, grand theft, and forgery on June 2, 1998.

Current status: On death row for the murders of Griga and Furton

Lugo has been in prison since August 1998. These days, he's living at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, a small town in north-central Florida, where he's been desperately trying to avoid execution, filing a series of appeals starting in September 1998. (The state Supreme Court shot that one down six years later.) In October 2004, Lugo asked for a new trial, claiming that one of the jurors failed to disclose he'd been a victim of violent crime and that his attorneys failed to find character witnesses. The palooka even alleged the Bahamian Police violated the Vienna Convention.

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39 comments
jakobclark4
jakobclark4

and just saying if you have read all the articles lugo and doorbal are reformed and luck is most likely to be released soon due to the fact there was a jury error in his trial but unless doorbal gets governors pardon he dead

jakobclark4
jakobclark4

What lugo did was wrong but can be justified by the fact that he was a brilliant psychopath who was a creature of habit that coraled others into a group for their own survival people like them are what makes people like us stronger and yet we lock them up and kill them or put them in mental institutions

danielavideo
danielavideo

That was before they figured out that he was doing the same damn thing his kid nappers did.Sorry but I have a hard time believing this meat head master planned this... Only a banker or cpa can come up with this shit. he was definitely the one behind this. somewhere along the line Someone said let's kill him and take all his money and not give him any of his cut. come on please his life insurance policy?

danielavideo
danielavideo

Lol see little boys and girls... This is what happens when you take juice! You become a retard.

plome346
plome346

I dont think your are right I read all the story and I lugo should be set free !

arkiel
arkiel

I'd like to know what happened to that shitheel SID detective who thought the poor guy was full of it. That jackass has the blood of two people on his hands.

jpoppiti
jpoppiti

It's disgraceful that the two disgraceful animals are still on death row. They should be killed...today.

lordofgamas
lordofgamas

It pisses me off that someone made this movie into a comedy. This is something an amazing, serious crime thriller would be like, but now I get to see Michael Bay botch something that's incredibly morbid and still fresh in a lot of people's minds.

Disgraceful. 

mondaydecember
mondaydecember

I read the whole story, and I'd like to dump a bucket of waste on the heads of the cops who laughed off Schiller's story. I'm sure they belong to a public sector employee union and have received their raises and promotions on schedule, though. Ed Petow, Jim Maier, Iris Deegan, Fred Taylor, Pete Cuccaro -- frickin' idiots. And was that bimbo Sabina deported? She was an illegal alien for chrissake.

jkorn_jk
jkorn_jk

I cant believe I knew these guys 

jkorn_jk
jkorn_jk

I remember going there to apply for a job , very seedy place at the time and coundt trust lugos attitude and the test he was trying to sell me , so i left

jkorn_jk
jkorn_jk

I cant believe there glory fying these murderers assholes I met lugo many years ago in florida at the gym  and doorbel I cant wiat til they get the injection

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

"As he left the courthouse, Schiller was arrested by federal agents on charges of orchestrating a Medicare billing scheme through his nutritional companies.

Current status: Employed as an accountant..."

Who would employ this one as an accountant ? Certainly isn't a CPA, not with a record for Medicare fraud.

thebulldog
thebulldog

who made the original signs for sun gym?

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

i gotta see this movie, i remember sun gym some what and doorbal used to go to a niteclub in miami lakes back in the day

genera13
genera13

@jakobclark4  You are just as sick as they are. you should be locked up in a mental institution. Stupid people like you should not breed!

davebward65
davebward65

Man....you are really really brain dead. fIf that's how you really process information, then please please don't have any children. Because you literally are dumber than Lugo and his gang. Your mother must have taken really bad drugs while pregnant with you.

davebward65
davebward65

Then you should take the chair in his place. Because as dumb as you two are, we don't need either of you swimming in the gene pool. No what i be saying thug boy?

plome346
plome346

I think they should let lugo free

Jgomez
Jgomez

@jpoppiti 

I agree, they should have been put down long time ago. The torture they put Mr. Schiller thru is unbelievable.

mary
mary

@lordofgamas Not to mention, they don't have all the correct facts or all of the people involved.


perretti15312
perretti15312

Wow, i know its crazy. You never know about people.

starofhopeinc
starofhopeinc

@jgcamp99 

If he really did what they said he did, They prosecutor and police had much incentive to make him look bad. Evidence against Schiller was Delgado, they guy who insisted they murder him.

danielavideo
danielavideo

That was before they figured out that he was doing the same damn thing his kid nappers did.

Sorry but I have a hard time believing this meat head master planned this... Only a banker or cpa can come up with this shit. he was definitely the one behind this. somewhere along the line Someone said let's kill him and take all his money and not give him any of his cut. come on please is life insurance policy?

starofhopeinc
starofhopeinc

@jgcamp99 You can't judge you don't know the entire story. There are factual errors in this article

Boucho
Boucho

@Donnie Donnie where was sun gym? which part of miami?


lkaliflower21
lkaliflower21

Why???? He chopped people heads, feet and hanfs off and barbecued them...thats sick

jpoppiti
jpoppiti

Why? I am sure you'd feel differently if a family member of yours was kidnapped and/or killed by lugo and his crew? Lugo definitely should not be released. LIFO should be executed.

ygagdfgf
ygagdfgf

@Jgomez @jpoppiti  no doubt what they did was horrible, but does that justify you to call them animals

lkaliflower21
lkaliflower21

I wish thoght the story all the way true...that foul had a wife and the other one didnt

Reddragonk
Reddragonk

@jpoppiti you are offending the animals. animals kill with the purpose of survival..this was for pleasure which only humans do...just look around,,,of curse that was sarcasm ..in general whoever is found guilty on a crime and sentenced to death should be done quickly not letting then live for a lot of more years..Death sentences should be executed immediately after being found guilty.. 

jpoppiti
jpoppiti

Damn right it does. They kidnapped three people, and killed two of them. They are animals and should be executed.

starofhopeinc
starofhopeinc

@Jimbo99 @starofhopeinc 

Do you not realize they used Delgado to frame Schiller because they had blood on their hands. They only gave Delgado 15 years, they created a story that Schiller was dirty as an excuse for not investigating. You don't understand how our system works

 
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