Pain & Gain: Where the Real-Life Sun Gym Gang Characters Are Now | Miami New Times
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Doorbal crushed Griga's skull with a blunt object, strangled him, and finished him off with a horse tranquilizer. He also injected Furton with lethal doses of the trank. Then Doorbal used a chainsaw and a hatchet to dismember their bodies. When police finally arrested him on June 2,at his Miami Lakes apartment, he admitted his part in Schiller's abduction, then stopped talking.
His last comment to detectives: On death row for the murders Griga and Furton Like Lugo, Doorbal was sent to state prison on August 31,one month after he was sentenced to die for killing the Hungarian-born couple. He filed his first appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on February 8,claiming that police lacked probable cause. The state's high court denied his petition four years later.
In Junehe requested a new trial but was again denied. His last appeal failed on November The only way Doorbal can avoid execution now is through a governor's pardon.
Between all his appeals, Doorbal has found time to make friends in online messageboards like prisontalk. Though he was tossed in solitary for 30 days in for abusing his email privileges, he hasn't stopped looking for new pals. Now 41, Doorbal has retained his boyish good looks, though his signature black mane has been replaced by a clean bald dome.
According to his profile on askaconvict. I'll be waiting for you. Jorge Delgado Played by: Not depicted in the movie Key description: His wife, Linda, who worked for Schiller in his M.
Accounting Services office in West Dade, cried as she described to her boss the couple's perilous finances. A sympathetic Schiller offered the Havana-born Delgado a job All in all Delgado had profited immensely from the relationship. A few years earlier, he and his wife were living with her parents. Now he had a nice house north of Miami Lakes. He'd used Schiller's sympathy to get work as his gofer and later became one of Lugo's clients at Sun Gym.
The two became best buddies, even though Schiller had warned him to avoid Lugo. When Lugo's goons finally nabbed Schiller, they took him to Delgado's Hialeah warehouse, where Delgado helped shake him down and plotted his attempted murder. Later, Schiller knew Lugo and Delgado were going to kill the Hungarian couple and even helped his two comrades dispose of the bodies.
He confessed his role in and, in turn, received just 15 years. Prosecutors gave him a sweetheart deal because they needed his testimony, and they couldn't prove he participated in killing the Hungarians.
He told the court how Lugo and Doorbal had admitted to murdering and dismembering Griga and Furton. Free as a swallow-tailed kite soaring over the Everglades On September 27,Delgado was released from the Everglades Correctional Institution in West Dade a year after his wife, Linda, divorced him.
He served only seven years in all. But Delgado didn't turn his life around. Inthree days before Christmas, Delgado was arrested for felony grand theft. He pleaded guilty and received a year of probation. They live in a three-bedroom residence in southwest Miami-Dade owned by his parents. Delgado did not respond to a letter mailed to his home requesting comment. He also did not return messages left with his mother and father, who live five minutes from their son.
Marc Schiller Played by: Schiller was invigorated by the decision to go to the police. But he also was wary, afraid he might die in Miami. But he still had a seven-figure bank account thanks to his nutritional-supplements companies. The businessman lived on Old Cutler Road with his wife and two children in a two-story house with a pool.
He'd taken Delgado under his wing but later had a falling-out over his friendship with Lugo. Little did I know the trouble would involve me.
They bagged his head, Tasered him, and threw him into the back of a van. Inside his former buddy Delgado's warehouse, Schiller was beaten, pistol-whipped, burned, and subjected to games of Russian roulette. They forced him to call his friends with a story about falling for a young mistress and fleeing town and to call his family and tell them to hide out in Colombia.
Meanwhile, they made him sign away all his assets. When they got all they could, the gang ordered him to wash down sleeping pills with a fountain of liquor, put him behind the wheel of his Toyota 4Runner — which they set on fire — and then rammed him into a utility pole. When Schiller staggered out of the flaming car alive, the gang ran him over — twice! Four years later, on May 27,Schiller returned to Miami to testify against his tormentors. His schadenfreude was short-lived, though.
As he left the courthouse, Schiller was arrested by federal agents on charges of orchestrating a Medicare billing scheme through his nutritional companies. Employed as an accountant in Boca Raton. Adding insult to the injury of being busted by the feds, Delgado was among the witnesses who testified against Schiller. Two years after Schiller's conviction, U. District Judge Alan S. Schiller, who got out of prison inmaintains he was innocent, noting the main witness against him was Delgado, the same man who wanted him dead.
I had no fight in me. So he worked part-time for his brother for a while and then spent a year on a vending machine route. BySchiller regained his CPA license. In the meantime, Schiller finished his memoir. Originally the character played by Shalhoub was going to be named after him and he was supposed to have a cameo role as a detective, Schiller claims. But both fell through. From the trailer he's watched, Schiller says, Shalhoub's brash character is all wrong.
Szuszanna Griga Played by: Not depicted in the movie. Her brother, Frank, is part of Shalhoub's composite character Key description: His girlfriends were beautiful, as sensual and sculpted as the cars he owned. He preferred babes, some of them strippers, and after he and Beatriz had parted ways, she introduced him to Krisztina Furton at Crazy Horse II, a Fort Lauderdale strip joint.
The two quickly fell in love and became inseparable. Griga's sister Born in Berlin inFrank Griga emigrated to New York City in the mid-'80s, toiling as a car washer, then as a foreign-car mechanic.
He yearned to own the Lotuses and Ferraris. Soon, he found his calling card, literally. He joined a group of investors in the and number markets and made a fortune on sex lines. In alone, Frank and his partners took in 3 million bucks. He was the personification of the American dream. Those expensive tastes led to his downfall, though. Doorbal's girlfriend, who knew Griga through her strip-club job, showed the hood a photo of the businessman with his Lambo.
That's how the gang found its final mark. On May 27,after several aborted attempts to snatch Griga, Lugo and Doorbal lured him and Furton to Shula's Steak House under the pretense of a business deal. The restaurant was closed, so the goons brought the couple back to Doorbal's apartment, where Frank and Krisztina spent their final moments in agonizing terror.
More than a week later, Szuszanna got a call from Dade County detectives confirming they'd found the hacked-up bodies of her brother and his girlfriend.
Immediately she flew from Budapest. The year-old karmic astrologer sat through every agonizing day of the Sun Gym Gang's four-month trial. She also testified at the sentencing hearings for Lugo and Doorbal. Griga lives in Budapest, Hungary, occasionally returning to Aventura, where she owns a condo. Frank's sister lives in Budapest with their year-old mother but has returned for all of Lugo's and Doorbal's appeal hearings. As far as the movie, Szuszanna is already panning it.
She's appalled the movie is a dark comedy that portrays Lugo and Doorbal as antiheroes who go after a scumbag. Ed Du Bois Played by: Ed Harris Key description: He felt some relief that Lugo, Delgado, and Doorbal were in custody, but the institutional cynicism that thwarted a true investigation into Schiller's kidnapping filled him with ire.
Why did Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton have to pay such a terrible price? Why hadn't the police taken him seriously? It was Schiller, desperate and terrified, recounting the gang's grisly deeds from a hospital bed. After heeding Du Bois's advice to split Miami, Schiller hired the private investigator to go after the gang. Du Bois, who was initially skeptical of the outlandish tale, quickly realized Schiller was telling the truth.
He collected reams of evidence and went to the Miami-Dade Police. Despite all the leads, though, the cops dropped the case — at least until the Sun Gym Gang killed again. Du Bois later testified about his role in the case during Lugo's and Doorbal's trials. Collins took on the assignment, but even with the story published in New Times, a deal never materialized.
Du Bois hasn't read the script, but he has a cameo role. All of these plights run through her family. Her future is further threatened by the fact of her homelessness, which has been shown, even in short spells, to bring disastrous consequences.
They are also the result of decisions made a world away, in the marble confines of City Hall. With the economy growing inthe Bloomberg administration adopted sweeping new policies intended to push the homeless to become more self-reliant. They would no longer get priority access to public housing and other programs, but would receive short-term help with rent. Poor people would be empowered, the mayor argued, and homelessness would decline. But the opposite happened. Families are now languishing there longer than ever — a development that Mr.
This would be a pivotal year of her childhood — one already marked by more longing and loss than most adults ever see. A tangle of three dramas had yet to unspool. Her mother had just been reunited with the children on the condition that she and her husband stay off drugs. Any slips, and the siblings could wind up in foster care, losing their parents and, most likely, one another.
The longer they stayed in that one room, the more they seemed to fall apart. Yet rents were impossibly high in the city, and a quarter-million people were waiting for the rare vacancy in public housing.
This was the year, then, that her parents made a promise: Dasani could close her eyes and see it. For children like Dasani, school is not just a place to cultivate a hungry mind. It is a refuge. The right school can provide routine, nourishment and the guiding hand of responsible adults.
But school also had its perils. Dasani was hitting the age when girls prove their worth through fighting. She was also on the cusp of becoming something more, something she could feel but not yet see, if only the right things happened and the right people came along. Dasani is a short, wiry girl whose proud posture overwhelms her 4-foot-8 frame.
She has a delicate, oval face and luminous brown eyes that watch everything, owl-like. Her expression veers from wonder to mischief. Strangers often remark on her beauty — her high cheekbones and smooth skin — but the comments never seem to register. What she knows is that she has been blessed with perfect teeth.
In a family where braces are the stuff of fantasy, having good teeth is a lottery win. On the subway, Dasani can blend in with children who are better off. It is an ironic fact of being poor in a rich city that the donated garments Dasani and her siblings wear lend them the veneer of affluence, at least from a distance. Used purple Uggs and Patagonia fleeces cover thinning socks and fraying jeans.
She knows such yearnings will go unanswered, so better not to have them. But once in a while, when by some miracle her mother produces a new pair of Michael Jordan sneakers, Dasani finds herself succumbing to the same exercise: She wears them sparingly, and only indoors, hoping to keep them spotless. What people do not see is a homeless girl whose mother succumbed to crack more than once, whose father went to prison for selling drugs, and whose cousins and aunts have become the anonymous casualties of gang shootings, AIDS and domestic violence.
She rarely wavers, or hints at doubt, even as her life is consumed by it. In reality, Auburn is neither. Inthe city repurposed the former hospital into a shelter for families. City and state inspectors have repeatedly cited the shelter for deplorable conditions, including sexual misconduct by staff members, spoiled food, asbestos exposure, lead paint and vermin.
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Auburn has no certificate of occupancy, as required by law, and lacks an operational plan that meets state regulations. There are few signs that children live at Auburn.
Locked gates prevent them from setting foot on the front lawn. Inside, prepackaged meals are served in a cafeteria where Dasani and her siblings wait in one line for their food before heading to another line to heat it in one of two microwaves that hundreds of residents share. Tempers fly and fights explode. The routine can last more than an hour before the children take their first bite.
To the left of the door, beneath a decrepit sink where Baby Lele is bathed, the wall has rotted through, leaving a long, dark gap where mice congregate. Hand-washed clothes line the guards on the windows, which are shaded by gray wool blankets strung from the ceiling. A sticky fly catcher dangles overhead, dotted with dead insects. There is no desk or chair in the room — just a maze of mattresses and dressers.
A flat-screen television rests on two orange milk crates. To eat, the children sit on the cracked linoleum floor, which never feels clean no matter how much they mop. Homework is a challenge. Sometimes it feels like too many bodies sharing the same air.
She carves out small, sacred spaces: The children spend hours at the playgrounds of the surrounding housing projects, where a subtle hierarchy is at work. Nothing gnaws at Dasani more. A mucus-stained nose suggests a certain degradation, not just the absence of tissues, but of a parent willing to wipe or a home so unclean that a runny nose makes no difference. The projects may represent all kinds of inertia. But to live at Auburn is to admit the ultimate failure: Dasani ticks through their faces, the girls from the projects who might turn up at this new school.
Some are kind enough not to gossip about where she lives. She will hopefully slip by those girls unseen. Fresh braids fall to one side of her face, clipped by bright yellow bows. Her required polo and khakis have been pressed with a hair straightener, since Auburn forbids irons. Her heart is pounding. She will be sure to take a circuitous route home. She will focus in class and mind her manners in the schoolyard.
She only has to climb those steps. She passes through the metal detector, joining other middle and high school students at the Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts. Stage props are salvaged from a nearby trash bin. Dance class is so crowded that students practice in intervals. An air of possibility permeates the school, named after the first African-American woman to become a physician in New York State. There is Officer Jamion Andrews, the security guard who moonlights as a rap lyricist, and Zakiya Harris, the dance teacher who runs a studio on the side.
The children also strive. When the students hear it, they know that Jasmine, a sublimely gifted junior, is singing in the office of the principal, Paula Holmes. The school matriarch closes her eyes as she listens. It may be her only tranquil moment. Miss Holmes is a towering woman, by turns steely and soft.
She wears a Bluetooth like a permanent earring and tends toward power suits. Students stammer in her presence. She leaves her office door permanently open, like a giant, unblinking eye. A poster across the hall depicts a black man in sagging jeans standing before the White House, opposite President Obama.
Most of the middle school students are black, live in the surrounding projects and qualify for free or reduced meals. Fewer teachers share a greater load. After-school resources have thinned, but not the needs of students whose families are torn apart by gun violence and drug use.
And now, a charter school is angling to move in. Dasani knows about charter schools. Her former school, P. She never spoke to those children, whose classrooms were stocked with new computers. It is her electricity. When they dote on her, she giggles. But say the wrong thing and she turns fierce, letting the four-letter words fly. Miss Holmes is seated in a rolling pleather chair held together by duct tape.
She stares at the anguished girl. The principal slowly scoots her chair up to Dasani and leans within inches of her face. In turn, Miss Holmes will keep what happens at school in school. With that, she waves Dasani off, fighting the urge to smile.
Dasani closes her eyes and tilts her head toward the ceiling of her classroom. She has missed breakfast again. For a child who has never been to the beach, television ads are transporting.
She is walking in the sand.
She crashes into the waves. She opens her eyes. There is Miss Hester, batting those lashes. Both she and another teacher, Kenya Mabry, were raised in the projects.
They dress and talk with a polish that impresses Dasani, who studies them. Miss Hester is also watching Dasani. She does not yet know where Dasani lives, or how hungry she gets. But Miss Hester finds two things striking: Without even trying, she keeps up. Dasani possesses what adults at McKinney consider an intuitive approach to learning, the kind that comes when rare smarts combine with extreme life circumstances. She works hard to hide her struggles, staying quiet as other children brag about their new cellphones or sleepovers with friends.
If there is one place she feels free, it is dance class. But the study of dance, as something practiced rather than spontaneous, this is new. She is learning to point her toes like a ballerina, and to fall back into a graceful bridge. Here, in this room, time is kept and routines are mapped with precision and focus.
Dasani never tires of rehearsing the same moves, or scrutinizing more experienced dancers. Her gaze is often fixed on a tall, limber eighth grader named Sahai. A breathtaking dancer, she has long silky hair and carries herself like a newly crowned queen. She is a girl with enough means to accessorize elegantly. When Dasani looks at Sahai, she is taking the measure of all she is not.
Do good in school. The first option is out of the question. While Dasani clings to her uniform, other students wear coveted Adidas hoodies and Doc Marten boots. In dance class, Dasani does not even have a leotard. So she applies herself in school.
By October, she is on the honor roll, just as her life at Auburn is coming apart. It is something of an art to sleep among nine other people.
One learns not to hear certain sounds or smell certain smells. There is the ceaseless drip of that decaying sink, and the scratching of hungry mice. It makes no difference when the family lays out traps and hangs its food from the ceiling in a plastic bag. Dasani shares a twin mattress and three dresser drawers with her mischievous and portly sister, Avianna, only one year her junior. Their year-old stepfather, Supreme, has raised them as his own.
They consider him their father and call him Daddy. Supreme married Chanel nine years earlier, bringing two children from a previous marriage. The boy, Khaliq, had trouble speaking.
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He had been trapped with his dead, pregnant mother after she fell down a flight of stairs. The girl, Nijai, had a rare genetic eye disease and was going blind. They were the same tender ages as Dasani and Avianna, forming a homeless Brady Bunch as Supreme and Chanel had four more children.
The 5-year-old they call Papa sleeps by himself because he wets the bed. In the crib is Baby Lele, who is tended to by Dasani when her parents are listless from their daily dose of methadone. Chanel and Supreme take the synthetic opioid as part of their drug treament program. It has essentially become a substitute addiction. The more time they spend in this room, the smaller it feels. Nothing stays in order. Everything is exposed — marital spats, frayed underwear, the onset of puberty, the mischief other children hide behind closed doors.
Chanel cannot check her temper. For Dasani and her siblings, to act like rambunctious children is to risk a beating. By late fall, Chanel and Supreme are fighting daily about money. It has been years since Supreme lost his job as a barber and Chanel stopped working as a janitor for the parks department. He cuts hair inside the shelter and sells pirated DVDs on the street while she hawks odds and ends from discount stores.
In a good month, their combined efforts can bring in a few hundred dollars. This is not one of those times. He refuses to give Chanel cash for laundry. When the truth about Dasani emerges, she does nothing to contradict it. She is a proud girl.
She must find a way to turn the truth, like other unforeseeable calamities, in her favor. They assume that she has shed her uniform because she is trying to act tough.
In fact, the reverse is true. A chilly, November wind whips across Auburn Place, rustling the plastic cover of a soiled mattress in a trash bin outside the shelter. They are still short on cash.
Chanel inspects the mattress. But it is stained with feces. Janitors wearing masks and gloves had removed it from a squalid room where three small children lived, defecating on the floor. Their mother rarely bathed them, and they had no shoes on the day she gathered them in a hurry and left. She weighs pounds and her face is a constellation of freckles lit by a gaptoothed smile. She wraps her copper-hued hair in a tubular scarf. The street is her domain.
When she walks, people often step to the side — not in deference to her ample frame so much as her magisterial air. A five-minute walk through Fulton Mall can take Chanel hours for all the greetings, gossip, recriminations and nostalgia.
She has a remarkable nose for people, sniffing out phoniness in seconds. While others want the life of the music mogul Jay-Z, Chanel would settle for being his pet.
Today, she returns from school lugging a plastic bag of clothes donated by a security guard at McKinney. Dasani begins rummaging through the bag. She pulls out a white Nautica ski jacket and holds it up to her shoulders.
It is too wide, but she likes it. Suddenly, Supreme leaps into the air. His monthly benefits have arrived, announced by a recording on his prepaid welfare phone. Supreme and Chanel have been scolded about their lack of financial discipline in countless meetings with the city agencies that monitor the family. They feel the sudden, exquisite release born of wearing those gold fronts again — of appearing like a person who has rather than a person who lacks.
Miss Holmes glowers at Dasani, who tries to leaven the mood by bragging about her place on the honor roll. The principal is unmoved. Dasani still has a B average. You have to want more, too. The discussion returns to her behavior in gym class.
She wrinkles her nose. Miss Holmes has seen it before, the child too proud to show hunger. There is not much Miss Holmes can do about life outside school. There are many such children. Here at school, Miss Holmes must work with what she has. When the children visit, they spend most of their time upstairs, sleeping on a drafty wooden floor beneath a Roman-numeral clock that is permanently stopped at 2: Christmas gifts are scarce: A few nights later, the children are roused by shouts and a loud crash.
Uncle Josh has punched his hand through a window and is threatening to kill Uncle Lamont. Josh lunges at his brother with a knife. The men tumble to the floor as Chanel throws herself between them. Upstairs, the children cower and scream. Dasani calls out orders: Let the adults handle it! Josh is taken away in handcuffs as an ambulance races Lamont to the hospital with a battered eye. They had been fighting over a teenage girl. January brings relief, but not because of the new year. Their tax refunds can bring several thousand dollars, which could be enough to put down a rent deposit and leave the shelter.
They take the Q train, which barrels high across the East River. They will start looking for a home soon, she says. Suddenly, Chanel spots Chinatown. Dasani mentions a book she read about the Great Wall of China. Opportunity comes rarely, but Dasani is always waiting. She wakes early on Jan. She is unknown in the rarefied world of athletic recruiters and private coaches. But ask anyone in her small corner of Brooklyn, from the crossing guards to the drunks, and they will say two things about this tiny girl with the wayward braids: She is strong like a boy and can run like the wind.
Dasani heads out in the icy cold with her mother and two of her sisters. The amateur track and field series is a magnet for athletic recruiters, and some of its champions have gone as far as the Olympics.Amanda McGraw - Level 8 Beam, 2011 Balloon Classic @ New Image Gymnastics
Dasani will compete in the meter dash. She heads to the bathroom to change.