A few days before Christmas 2008, Abraham Gil had just finished handing out routes to Conchita Transit's fleet of jitney drivers when his brother Rene bumped into him in a hallway. Rene, who owns 40 percent of Hialeah's dominant jitney firm, wasn't happy with the assignment Abraham had just given to his son, Rene Jr., according to court transcripts. "You think you're in charge here?" he growled.
Moments later, both father and son jumped Abraham, police said, holding him to the ground and pummeling his head with a "sharp, blunt object" until his blood soaked into the floor.
Three years later, the brothers' epic feud over Conchita's control has finally ended in civil court with a big judgment against Rene. The family acrimony, though, isn't likely to abate soon.
"What can we say about it really?" their sister Amy says. "We just try to keep them away from each other."
The Gils' parents, Concepcion and Conrado, founded Conchita in 1986 just as the county was looking to ease the strain an immigration spike had placed on the transit system. Conchita's ragged but reliable minibuses soon became the backbone of Hialeah's public transportation.
Rene helped build the company after his dad's death in 1999 and for years was a "brilliant businessman," Concepcion wrote to a judge. But the clan's matriarch says all of that changed in 2006, when Rene developed a "severe drug habit." Abraham testified that his brother had left Conchita "in ruins" when they forced him out.
The siblings fought regularly over how to run Conchita, Abraham told police, but never as violently as that night in 2008. After the beating, there was blood "everywhere inside" the office, a cop later testified.
The elder Rene was charged with felony battery but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Abraham then filed suit in civil court.
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Two weeks ago, a jury finally ruled that the elder Rene owed Abraham $390,000 for beating him senseless. Riptide wasn't able to find a working number for Rene Gil, who no longer works at Conchita.
The rest of the family, meanwhile, is still making sure the minibuses run on time around Hialeah. They're not holding their breath for Rene to pay up.
"Rene doesn't have that kind of money," his sister Amy says. "He's got some job that pays $250 a week now."