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Millionaire's Murder Case Opens the Book on Flings With Male Porn Stars, Strippers

Samuel Del Brocco was stabbed to death in his Pompano Beach townhouse.
Samuel Del Brocco was stabbed to death in his Pompano Beach townhouse.
Courtesy of Carlos Larraz

"We're finished!" Samuel Del Brocco shouted. The words crashed off the walls of the $2 million mansion, careened across the 500-square-foot swimming pool, and spilled into the quiet Washington, D.C. suburb. "Get your shit and get out!"

Justin DeVinney said nothing. He just seethed with rage.

They were an odd couple. Del Brocco was a 60-year-old diabetic with color-treated hair. Recent weight-loss surgery had left skin drooping off him like a hound dog. DeVinney, on the other hand, was a Calvin Klein ad come to life — tall and handsome and muscular. The only hint that he had cracked 30 were the crow's-feet around his pale blue eyes.

They were uncle and nephew, neighbors assumed. Mentor and protégé, co-workers thought. But then there were the rumors: They were lovers.

Whatever their relationship, it was suddenly over. After Del Brocco's tirade, DeVinney climbed into his Escalade and drove away. Del Brocco told friends that DeVinney had been ungrateful and swore he would cut the younger man out of both his company and his $6 million will.

He never had a chance. Just days after the fight, Del Brocco was found stabbed to death inside his Pompano Beach townhouse.

For three years, DeVinney would be the main suspect in Del Brocco's murder. Last summer, however, DNA evidence led detectives to a drug-addled Miami porn star named John Snavely, who faces a strong case when he goes to trial later this year.

But court documents also paint a troubling picture of DeVinney's relationship with Del Brocco and open a window into the millionaire's secret South Florida life of sex, drugs, lies, and sugar babies. They also offer ample ammunition for Snavely to mount a defense on the stand.

Del Brocco was born in upstate New York in 1949. He was a handsome Italian kid with olive skin and soulful eyes. When he was a teenager, his family moved to Hollywood, Florida. It was the '60s and the Beatles were busy reinventing pop music, and he dreamed of his own stardom. He was a good singer. More important, he was driven.

Del Brocco moved to D.C., where he earned a master's degree in psychology from Loyola University Maryland and went to work at an elementary school as a special ed counselor. He didn't give up on his musical dreams, though. At the school, he met a young teacher named Jan Schafer, and the two soon moved in together. He formed an eight-piece disco-inspired band called the Sammy Del Brocco Show. Jan sewed Sam's tight polyester costumes.

For 13 years, Del Brocco toured the country with his band and often Schafer too. A few of Del Brocco's songs even broke onto national radio. But by 1985, he had realized he would never be a pop star. Instead, he moved back to D.C. and started a marketing company with his drummer, Bob Sprague. Driven by Del Brocco's obsessive meticulousness, PCI Communications soon snapped up bigger and bigger clients.

PCI was the Sammy Del Brocco Show, part two. The small company revolved around the singer turned CEO and would make Del Brocco a wealthy man. But it would also fuel his darker side. Friends say he became more controlling, particularly over Jan, as he became richer.

"Their conversations didn't seem like husband-and-wife conversations," says Jackson Bain, a retired newscaster and close friend of Del Brocco's. "They seemed more like employer and employee."

By 2003, Del Brocco's business was booming. He flew from one city to the next, juggling a rapidly growing list of clients. To his friends in D.C., it seemed as if all he did was work. But his trips out of town offered him an escape from the carefully marketed life he had assembled in Washington. The first hint that there was another side to Sam came in September 2003, when he returned to the capital with a handsome hunk in tow.

Del Brocco introduced the tall, square-jawed 25-year-old as Justin DeVinney, PCI's newest employee. They had met in a hotel bar in New York and begun talking about business, Del Brocco said. DeVinney was a model and bartender but wanted to make better use of his college degree. Impressed, Del Brocco offered him a job.

It's unclear how Del Brocco and DeVinney actually met. But what is certain is that the two hid the younger man's true background. Originally from Rochester, New York, DeVinney had posed nude for Playgirl and other softcore porn publications while also performing as an exotic dancer, according to police depositions.

One of DeVinney's employers was a company called BG East. ­Advertising itself as "gay-oriented wrestling," BG East produced videos that depicted buff men in Speedos pinning, choking, and, in some cases, blowing one another. "You did a wrestling match and they would depict it in a way [that] was homosexual and sell it," DeVinney would later tell cops.

 

In D.C., however, Del Brocco didn't mention DeVinney's risqué wrestling resumé. Instead, he handed his handsome apprentice a cushy job for $36 an hour. DeVinney made nearly $100,000 his first year — an amount that would climb to $377,000 only six years later — yet no one else at PCI knew what, exactly, he did.

Danielle Whelton, a public relations employee for PCI, later told investigators that DeVinney was little more than "the Pretty Boy." "She said he didn't bring any clients to the company," Broward Sheriff's Office detective Tim Duggan wrote in one report. "She said she suspected that DeVinney had a substance abuse problem."

In fact, DeVinney later admitted to detectives he had been addicted to OxyContin. Del Brocco and DeVinney were now spending every day together. Sam gave Justin special bonuses that other employees didn't get, and the two traveled to Brazil, Europe, and the Dominican Republic together.

In May 2010, Del Brocco bought an eight-bedroom mansion in Alexandria, Virginia. Schafer was given a room. To the surprise of their friends, so was DeVinney. Another PCI employee, Donna Jeffries, was convinced that Del Brocco and DeVinney were "lovers." They are "in a gay relationship and everyone at PCI knows it," she later told detectives.

Del Brocco had applied his hyperactivity to the real estate market, buying foreclosed houses in D.C. and Florida and flipping them for huge profits. Now he let his protégé in on the operation. When Del Brocco purchased an $850,000 townhouse in Pompano Beach, he took Justin along, ostensibly to help with renovations.

Soon they were jetting down to South Florida together almost every weekend. Sam had a gray Porsche. Justin had a black one, plus the keys to a red Ferrari. The sexagenarian and his sexy sidekick would go to dinner at expensive restaurants such as DeVito South Beach and hit up strip clubs like Solid Gold, Scarlett's, and Cheetah.

Del Brocco, at least, also had other tastes. He frequented gay strip clubs like Dudes, Johnny's, and Boardwalk. He scouted the stage for clean-cut studs. And he plied them with coke, crack, cash, booze, and weed — whatever it took to get them back to his place for a "private dance," strippers told police.

DeVinney denies being involved in Del Brocco's frenetic gay fiestas. Sam would often just disappear, Justin told cops. "Where did he go? I don't know. Who'd he see? I don't know."

There were other strains between the two, however. By late summer, living together had worn on both men. DeVinney began talking behind Del Brocco's back, complaining that Sam was a control freak. Del Brocco began telling friends that Justin was ungrateful.

Finally, in early September, the simmering fight burst into a full boil. Del Brocco threatened to throw DeVinney out of his house, his company, and his will. A few days later, when Del Brocco flew down to Pompano Beach for a Labor Day party, DeVinney stayed behind.

The next weekend, on September 11, Del Brocco again flew alone to Florida. He spoke on the phone with contractors in Virginia, ate dinner at Kelly's Landing in Fort Lauderdale, and called his closest friends. Then he set about buying some drugs. Del Brocco met a dealer behind the Burger King at 17th Street and South Federal Highway, bought a crack rock for $20, and headed to the strip clubs.

Cell phone records show Del Brocco flitted between gay clubs and his crack dealer all night long. Shortly after midnight, however, he headed back to his Pompano Beach townhouse. He wasn't alone.

Broward Sheriff's Office deputies would find Del Brocco's body Sunday evening. The door to the townhouse was open, and bloody size 12 sneaker prints ran through the three-floor home to the bedroom. There, on the floor, Del Brocco lay fully clothed in a pool of blood. He had been stabbed ­almost a dozen times in the back and chest.

Two Viagra pills lay near his body. A half-smoked joint perched on the arm of a chair, and an empty can of Diet Coke sat in the kitchen, where a bloody knife had been hastily hidden under a throw rug.

It didn't take cops long to consider DeVinney a suspect. Several of Del Brocco's friends in D.C. had mentioned the millionaire's strange relationship and recent fights with the much younger man. And when BSO's Detective Duggan looked into Del Brocco's will, he found plenty of motive for murder.

Under a will drafted two years earlier, DeVinney was set to receive half of Del Brocco's more than $6 million estate. Jan Schafer, Del Brocco's long-suffering partner, would get only 20 percent. If Del Brocco had lived to carry out his threat to cut his protégé out of the will, it would have cost DeVinney more than $3 million.

 

A few days after the murder, Detective Duggan and his partner flew to D.C. to interview DeVinney. He denied knowing anything about Del Brocco's secret life. He insisted he and Sam were both straight and said there was nothing romantic about their relationship. After an hourlong interrogation, Duggan was exasperated.

"Justin, let me paint you a picture," the detective said. "Justin was the eye candy, the attraction for Sam. Sam likes young guys. Everybody and their brother knows that... Justin is the protégé of Sam... Sam takes care of everything... When Sam and Justin have an argument, Justin comes back because he recognizes what he has. He's got a good thing. And he's not stupid."

DeVinney had an alibi, though. He was visiting friends in New York City when Del Brocco was killed. He had receipts for his train trip to New York. He even had Facebook photos showing him at a Jets football game Sunday. All of Del Brocco's favorite male dancers also had alibis. And it would end up being almost three years before BSO would believe it had caught Del Brocco's killer. Even then, it happened by luck.

On July 19, 2013, DNA from the Diet Coke can in Del Brocco's townhouse was matched to saliva taken from a recently convicted felon. John William Snavely was a stripper and porn star with a penchant for drugs. Seven months earlier, he had been partying with porn buddies in Fort Pierce and had been arrested on marijuana, Xanax, and amphetamine charges.

Snavely initially told cops he'd never met Del Brocco. Confronted with DNA evidence and fingerprints pulled from the dead man's Porsche, Snavely shifted to claiming he might have danced for him but had been too high to remember.

In his only jailhouse interview, Snavely told New Times that he didn't kill Del Brocco. Perhaps one of his employees had, Snavely suggested. Wasn't there a young guy — Justin something or other — who was in line to get half the fortune?

It's an argument that Snavely and his attorney, who didn't respond to requests for comment for this story, are likely to make later this year when his case finally goes to trial. In the meantime, the hulking porn star is sitting in the Broward County Jail.

Justin DeVinney's life has taken a much different turn. Thanks to Del Brocco's will, he is now a millionaire at the age of 36. After his mentor's death, DeVinney went about deleting almost every online picture of his unsavory earlier life. Only a few traces of his gay wrestling days remain.

He is still handsome and, from the looks of it, having a good time. His Facebook page shows him shooting handguns, driving racecars, drinking wine, and attending galas. It makes no mention of PCI Communications or Samuel Del Brocco.

When New Times called DeVinney, he sounded half-asleep.

"I'm in Europe right now, and it's like 2 o'clock in the morning," he said. "Why don't you give me a call tomorrow?"

We did. He didn't pick up.


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