Pain & Gain - The True...
Pain & Gain - The True Story behind the Movie (Part 2) - Miami New Times
The Oddly True Story behind the Movie
Du Bois supervised hundreds of cases each year, and his firm maintained a close relationship with federal and local law enforcement. He frequently was retained as an outside contractor by police departments and state prosecutors. In Dade County, he'd worked for State Attorneys Richard Gerstein and Janet Reno. Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the current head prosecutor, had hired him, too.
On this morning he received a call from Miami attorney Gene Rosen. The lawyer was giving him a heads-up; he'd advised a hospitalized client, a man who had "a wild story," to call the investigator. The guy needed help with a problem. When Rosen's client phoned later that morning, he sounded drugged, thick-tongued, yet edgy with fright and desperation. His sordid story was a jarring contrast to the spectacle Du Bois was coordinating for the NFL.
Marc Schiller told Du Bois he was a local businessman, currently a patient at Jackson Memorial Hospital, recovering from an operation to remove his spleen and repair a shattered pelvis and ruptured bladder. When he'd come out of anesthesia, his surgeon told him he'd had an accident. But Schiller, whose credibility was undermined because he'd entered the hospital as a suspected DUI case, insisted he'd been kidnapped and tortured for a month. Whatever landed him in the hospital, he couldn't be sure, but he was certain his captors had tried to kill him and would come after him again. He begged for protection.
Du Bois thought Schiller sounded like a screwball. (He had some experience with potential clients making outrageous claims, such as the man who had complained about painful jolts of electricity surging through his body, administered by evil beings from outer space. Du Bois effected a quick cure. He pressed "electrical grounding tabs" -- thumbtacks -- into the heels of the man's shoes. The miracle devices worked.) But if Schiller's story were true, even if only partly true, it probably was a drug-related abduction, Du Bois reasoned. And he didn't want to get caught up in a doper payback scheme. On the other hand, drug dealers never settled matters through civil attorneys like Gene Rosen. And he said Schiller was legitimate. More curious, there'd been no ransom demand. And Schiller was alive. All were highly unusual factors.
So Du Bois gave Schiller his best advice: Scram. Anyone can walk into a hospital, he said. It would cost $60 per hour for an armed bodyguard, and if Schiller was telling the truth and this gang was determined to kill him, they'd also try to kill any hired protectors. Du Bois didn't want to sacrifice any of his guys based on a phone conversation. Schiller could take his complaints to the police, he added. But he should talk with his doctor, leave the hospital as quickly as possible, and hide in a safe place -- any place but Miami -- while he recuperated. Du Bois even offered to drive him to the airport, but Schiller didn't call him back.
Meanwhile that day the Sun Gym gang was anxiously scanning news reports on the slim chance the Miami media would cover a run-of-the-mill, single-fatality car crash. Nothing, not even an obituary. Could this guy be alive? How could he be alive? They'd run him over twice. They called the morgue. Nothing. Then they began calling area hospitals.
Schiller had been admitted with no ID and listed as a John Doe. When he regained consciousness after the operation, he told the staff his name. Finally the gang learned he was at JMH in critical but stable condition. Now they devised various plans to kill him at the hospital. Doorbal again volunteered to strangle him, while the others staged a diversionary fistfight in the hallway. They also talked of silencers, of sneaking up the stairwell and killing everyone in Schiller's room. The consensus was that suffocating Schiller with his pillow was the best idea. In the end they decided to wing it; whatever method worked was fine.
They visited the hospital but got lost in the maze of corridors while looking for intensive care. And what if a cop was stationed by his door? They needed a fresh plan. Later that day Lugo bought hospital garb at a uniform supply store. The next morning, as they prepared to suit up and return to JMH, they called to check on Schiller's condition. He was no longer a patient. Sorry, they were informed, no forwarding address.
Luckily Schiller had listened to Du Bois. He contacted his sister in New York, who hired an air ambulance. On the morning of December 17, Schiller checked out of the hospital against the advice of his attending doctors. At $6000 for a one-way flight, the trip was costly, but well worth it. Leaving the hospital saved his life.
Marc Schiller spent the next week recovering at Staten Island University Hospital. On Christmas Eve 1994, he left the hospital and moved into his sister's Long Island home. He couldn't get across a room without using a walker. A simple thing like emptying his bladder was agony.
But he could remember nearly everything that had happened the month before: the burns and beatings, the forced signatures, the attempted murder. Most important he remembered the betrayal by Jorge Delgado, whom he had hired and made rich through generous partnerships. He called his brother in Tampa, and Alex Schiller called Delgado. Alex knew every disgusting detail of the abduction. He knew Delgado and his chums had swindled Marc out of various assets. He knew about the torture. And he was coming to Miami to avenge that suffering. Delgado had better grow eyes in the back of his head.
This posed a new problem for the Sun Gym gang. Schiller was alive and talking. They'd have to eliminate him once and for all. On Christmas Eve, Daniel Lugo, Adrian Doorbal, and Stevenson Pierre made a journey to Tampa. Schiller must be at his brother's house, they figured, and this time they'd kill him, no screwups. But as they watched the house, Alex emerged with a suitcase and took off in his car for Miami. The three wise men lost him on the Florida Turnpike. Lugo called ahead to warn Delgado, who spent a paranoid Christmas at home with his wife and their new baby.
Lugo and Doorbal had been making periodic visits to Schiller's Old Cutler Cove home since mid-November, when they'd ordered their captive to tell his wife to grab the children and flee to her native Colombia. Among the first possessions the gang removed from the vacated house were the contents of the safe: $10,000 in cash plus credit cards, the deed to the house and documents pertaining to Schiller's La Gorce Palace condominium, insurance papers, and his wife's jewelry.
By early January 1995 the gang was emboldened again. They'd heard nothing more from Schiller or his brother, and decided it was safe to move into the house. It was a swell, upscale place -- complete with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and an entertainment system that featured a 50-inch television -- a far cry from their usual digs. They'd taken care of the paperwork, and the house now belonged to D&J International, a Bahamian company Lugo had set up the year before. As new lords of the manor, they were living well indeed. Schiller was alive, an inconvenience to be sure, but even so they'd netted about $2.1 million in cash, real estate, cars, credit cards, and jewels.
Lugo, who still had to worry about the constraining terms of his federal probation, leased an $80,000 gold Mercedes in Delgado's name. Carl Weekes, the unemployed New York welfare recipient who'd moved to Miami to clean up his act, received about half the promised $100,000 payment for his role in the kidnapping. Stevenson Pierre would receive just $30,000. He had an attitude problem, they decided, and had been conspicuously absent during the most crucial episodes, including the final night when they'd tried so hard to kill Schiller.
Lugo was the point man in the plush new surroundings. He introduced himself around the neighborhood as "Tom" and explained, in terms that would alarm no one, that he and his colleagues were members of the U.S. security forces. Marc Schiller had run into legal trouble and been deported, along with his family. The house had been confiscated and now was government property. Tom and his crew would take care of its maintenance. Any strangers seen coming and going would be foreign diplomats, most of them from the Caribbean.
The gang acted neighborly, borrowing tools and returning them promptly. They began paying homeowner-association dues. Tom impressed one neighborhood couple by climbing up a tall ladder to change a front-porch light bulb two stories above their welcome mat. He asked another neighbor to accept delivery of packages delivered to the Schiller house if no one was home. The neighbor accepted twelve UPS deliveries and handed them over without question.
Lugo visited The Spy Shop on Biscayne Boulevard -- where three months before, the gang had bought stun guns, handcuffs, and other tools of the Schiller kidnapping -- this time to upgrade the home-security system. He decided on a $7000 closed-circuit video surveillance package that included waterproof outdoor cameras and sensors, and a 25-inch monitor installed inside the main living room. He hired gardeners to add shrubbery and a dense mass of bougainvillea. Increasingly the house was becoming a home. Weekes began sleeping over for days at a time. Sometimes Doorbal crashed there as well.
After dealing with domestic matters and putting in appearances at Sun Gym north of Miami Lakes, Lugo and Doorbal often headed out in the evening to Solid Gold, a North Miami Beach strip club.
Doorbal had his eyes on Beatriz Weiland, a Hungarian import and exotic dancer. Within the competitive environment of female pulchritude at Solid Gold, other performers said Beatriz -- with her big blue eyes, perfect complexion, and full-busted, slim-hipped body -- was one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Lugo set his sights on one of the strippers, too. He'd become enamored of Sabina Petrescu, a 25-year-old dancer who'd modeled for Penthouse. In 1990 she'd scored runner-up in the Miss Romania contest and now longed for life as an actress in the West. She flew from Bucharest to Moscow to Havana to Mexico City before entering the United States in the trunk of a car. For a while she worked as a cocktail waitress in San Diego, until a talent scout approached her about modeling gigs in Los Angeles,Las Vegas, and New York. The assignments had all required Sabina to remove her clothes, usually while she danced on a stage. Eventually she wound up in Miami.
Penthouse model Sabina Petrescu, just before she lost her innocence
The two men certainly had the physiques to match their dream girls: 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 Schiller's assets. Although Doorbal was shorter than Lugo, he too had the build of a professional weight lifter, his muscle striations enhanced by his dark skin. He sported a thick head of wavy black hair that fell almost to his waist. Indeed Lugo's sidekick from Trinidad resembled some carved Caribbean virility god.
It was on Super Bowl Sunday that Beatriz told Sabina to go to the Champagne Room; there was someone who wanted to meet her. The Champagne Room was an elevated area within the club that separated the big spenders from the proles below. The guys in the cheap seats tipped with ones and fives as they drank $7.50 beers. Fifty dancers circulated at floor level, offering to perform $10 table dances. But up a few red-carpeted steps, drinks went for $15 and dances cost $20. There was more cuddling and nuzzling -- it was expected and allowed -- in the demimonde of the Champagne Room. Here most of the high rollers, an assortment of pro athletes, drug dealers, tourist businessmen, arms merchants, mobsters, and B-movie actors, were surrounded by several girls. You could buy a bottle of champagne for $1000. Guys who wanted to show off burned $10,000 in an evening easily.
Sabina remembered Lugo. He liked to slip dollar bills into her garter belt while she danced in a cage. Now, surrounded by a phalanx of provocative strippers, he was telling her he only wanted to talk. He was in the music business, he said, and wanted to feature her in a video he'd be filming in London. As the conversation progressed, he periodically handed her twenties. His tab that night ran about $400. When he said goodbye, she gave him a kiss. It was a start.
Within a week they were dating, and soon a relationship bloomed. Lugo warned Sabina that the other men at Solid Gold just wanted to take advantage of her. By February he had her ensconced in a one-bedroom, $800-per-month townhouse apartment that overlooked Main Street in Miami Lakes. Sabina wouldn't have to dance naked anymore. He'd take care of her. In the years since his divorce, he said, he had never felt so close to a woman. They began living together. (It was convenient for Lugo; he could drive just a few miles and be back home with his pregnant wife, Lucretia Goodridge.)
Daniel Lugo: An uncanny mixture of brains and brawn not always under control
At first everything went well. Something like love, or maybe love itself, flowered. But Sabina didn't understand Lugo's odd hours, his occasional trips to the Bahamas. Why would a music-video producer need night-vision binoculars? And what was happening with that London video shoot he'd promised? She was growing bored in her gilded cage. There had to be more to do than shop and see her hairdresser.
Sabina's frustrations persisted; she demanded an explanation. "Look, if you're ever going to understand me," Lugo told her at last, "if this relationship is ever going to be real, you've got to understand my work. I'm with the Central Intelligence Agency." He'd gone through harrowing missions. One fell apart in a London hotel, and the Company left him on his own to survive on leftovers from room-service trays. On another CIA job in Hong Kong, he'd had to live for a week in a tree.
Lugo swore her to secrecy, and the beautiful Sabina, raised in Romania on a steady diet of American movies, was happy to oblige. A fan of action thrillers, particularly James Bond films, she now had her own real-life man of international intrigue. The spy who loved her even gave her a specialized code for her beeper: When she saw "007" appear on the screen, she knew Lugo was trying to contact her.
By now Adrian Doorbal also had moved nearby, to a two-story townhouse apartment a block away on Main Street. This, Sabina learned, was no coincidence: Doorbal, too, worked for the CIA. Lugo told her the Company figured it was smarter to have the team in close proximity in case they had to act swiftly. And when the guys disappeared for a few days now and then, it was because they were constantly on call; they had to report to headquarters in Langley, Virginia, at a moment's notice. They had no say in when or why; the life of a secret agent wasn't always glamorous.
Doorbal hadn't yet scored a date with Beatriz from Solid Gold, but he did have a steady girl. He'd been dating Cindy Eldridge, whom he'd met at Sundays on the Bay restaurant in Key Biscayne nine months before, on the occasion of her surprise birthday party. The 31-year-old Boca Raton nurse, a pretty blond fitness enthusiast, was taken with the stranger she chanced to meet at her party. And why wouldn't she be? He was a personal trainer, he told her, and co-owned a gym; he was interested in nutrition and bodybuilding. They both liked fast cars, too. Cindy had a red Corvette.
The personal trainer and the nurse had begun dating right away. Soon Doorbal proposed marriage, but Cindy declined -- she was older than he, and they didn't really know each other well enough. The commute between Boca and Miami limited their contact, but Doorbal saw her most weekends and sometimes during the week. Still, she didn't know the real sacrifices he was making for their relationship, those visits he crammed in between Schiller's beatings at the warehouse.
That winter of 1995 their problems began. Cindy wanted to move to Miami so they'd have more time together. But by then Doorbal was living on Main Street and playing the CIA agent for Lugo's girlfriend. (Besides, the distance gave him time to pursue Beatriz.) And there were more problems: Doorbal began having mood swings. He'd abruptly change his mind on any manner of subject. Worse (and there was no delicate way for her to bring this up), he was a flop in the sack. His libido was limp. But Cindy attributed these dark clouds to his steroid use; for bodybuilders it almost was an occupational hazard. She guided him to Dr. Eric Liefin Coral Springs, who specialized in treating long-term steroid abusers with hormone therapy. But the day finally came when Doorbal told her he just couldn't see her again. She was devastated.
While the Sun Gym gang was setting up house in Old Cutler Cove, Miami private investigator Ed Du Bois, who'd advised Schiller to check out of Jackson Memorial Hospital and leave Miami, received a phone call from New York. He was surprised but glad to learn Schiller was safe and healing.
Schiller was on his way to Colombia, to rejoin his family, but wanted to hire the detective to look into his kidnapping. Du Bois told him to write down everything he could remember about his abduction and torture, and to send any documentation he could gather.
A few days later Schiller flew to Colombia. Still on crutches, he was a mess physically and mentally. He'd lost 40 pounds and was down to 120. He had nightmares of that helpless, horrific month in the warehouse. He'd erupt in crying jags in the middle of everyday events. As he convalesced he also tried to put his financial life back together. With the help of his Miami attorney, Schiller discovered momentous changes in the family's lifestyle. There were outrageous charges ($80,000 worth!) on their credit cards: all phone orders, and not one made by him or his wife. His Schlotzsky's Deli franchise had been dissolved. The house now belonged to a Nassau, Bahamas, corporation he knew nothing about. His offshore accounts, in which he'd kept $1.26 million in investments, had been cleaned out. His checking account was empty.
He began compiling documents that followed the transfers of his property to mysterious offshore companies and people he had never met. The MetLife change-of-beneficiary policy gave him a laugh, one of the few since his kidnapping. Sure, he'd signed the form, but his signature didn't even run along the line. It rose almost perpendicular, pointing like a rocket off a launch pad. Several of his canceled checks displayed similar strange signature alignments; he couldn't believe his bank had honored them. And just who was this Lillian Torres, to whom he'd signed over his two-million-dollar life insurance policy and the investment in his La Gorce Palace luxury condominium?
During Super Bowl week Schiller's letter arrived at Du Bois's office, detailing his brutal ordeal and his certainty that Jorge Delgado, his former business partner and friend, was involved. He also named Daniel Lugo, an associate of Delgado, as one of his captors.
Du Bois had no idea who those guys were, but the paper trail led straight to the heart of his professional and personal history. The documents attached to the letter -- copies of title and account transfers -- had been witnessed and notarized by John Mese, an old Miami Shores acquaintance. Du Bois called Schiller and told him that he knew John Mese.
John Mese notarized more than two million dollars in assets transferred from Schiller's accounts
"This guy Mese has to be involved in my kidnapping," said Schiller.
"I can't imagine that," Du Bois replied. John Mese?
He couldn't begin looking into the case until the following week, after the Super Bowl, when he'd wind up his work as the NFL's top security consultant for the Miami extravaganza. He attended the opulent Commissioner's Ball and walked the sidelines during the big game. But Schiller's tale filtered through the festivities. The man's lonely suffering was bizarre and unsettling.
John Mese was the starting point of the Schiller file. Du Bois knew him as an accountant, a former bodybuilder, the owner of Sun Gym, and a promoter of bodybuilding competitions. He'd known Mese and his family for 30 years through the Miami Shores Country Club and the Kiwanis Club. In fact Mese occasionally had used his detective agency. The two men cut similar figures in the intimate Miami Shores community. Both had attended Miami Edison Senior High School. Both were handsome, strong, hard-working, and prosperous. They had pretty wives and wholesome kids. For five years in the Seventies they'd had offices across the street from each other in the Shores' intimate business district.
Du Bois simply could not picture a dark side to him. If anything he thought Mese was a decent, harmless guy whose true passion, bodybuilding, sometimes intruded on his day job. He must have been conned. He couldn't have witnessed Schiller's signatures unless he was present at the warehouse where Schiller had been held captive and tortured. But if he was there, Du Bois wondered, how did he ever get hooked up with those guys? How could he have gotten mixed up in something as cruel and unsavory as the Schiller abduction?
Du Bois called Mese and asked for a meeting, adding cryptically that it might be the most important appointment of his life. "What, Ed, you're going to bring me a new client, like the NFL or the Dolphins?" Mese joked. Du Bois expected to wrap the whole thing up quickly.
The meeting took place on February 2, 1995, at Mese's Miami Shores office. At 57 years old, he was no longer the chiseled muscleman of old. He now resembled a white-haired Norman Rockwell grandfather poised over the Christmas turkey.
Mese didn't know anyone named Marc Schiller. Du Bois handed him Schiller's letter, studying his face as he read. There wasn't much to discern. "Sounds like this guy had a rough time," said Mese.
Did he know Jorge Delgado and Daniel Lugo? To the detective's surprise Mese said yes, Lugo was employed at his gym, and Delgado worked out there. Besides that, they were hard-working businessmen and clients of his. He'd represented both before the IRS.
A silence fell between the men.
"Ed, I still don't figure how I fit into all this," said Mese.
Du Bois handed him a copy of the quit-claim deed to Schiller's house, and Schiller's MetLife change-of-beneficiary form. Mese had notarized both. In all Mese had witnessed and notarized more than two million dollars of Schiller's assets in the past few months.
The accountant's memory suddenly improved. "Actually," he offered, "Lugo and Delgado brought in some Latin guy with a passport for ID." Maybe this was the man Du Bois was asking about.
"Did a woman come with him?" the detective asked. No, Mese said.
Du Bois then pointed to another signature on the deed, that of "Diana Schiller." And he produced a copy of her passport. She'd left the United States on November 18. But her signature appeared on documents dated November 23 and 24.
"John, how did you possibly witness the signature of a woman who was in South America that day?" Du Bois asked. "Was any other woman here impersonating her?"
Mese hesitated. Well, he said, his recollection was vague about the circumstances surrounding Diana Schiller's signature. Perhaps it was signed before he received the papers, or maybe something screwy had happened. He agreed to set up a meeting with Lugo and Delgado to straighten out the matter.
A second meeting was set up for February 13, again at Mese's Miami Shores office. This time Du Bois took precautions. If Lugo and Delgado had committed terrible crimes against Schiller, they were capable of anything. Early in the morning Du Bois rounded the corner past his house and stopped in to see his best friend,Ed O'Donnell, a veteran criminal lawyer. O'Donnell had worked as a major-crimes prosecutor in the State Attorney's Office before switching to private practice. Du Bois told him about the gang, the letter, the documents, his fears. If something happened to him this morning, he wanted the attorney to know the identity of those at the meeting, and the circumstances that took him there.
Du Bois also took care to hire a bodyguard.
Ed Seibert's career included stints as a Washington, D.C., homicide detective and an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. After retiring he freelanced as a security consultant in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Colombia from the mid-1980s through 1991. He'd planned logistics for the Nicaraguan contras and worked as a ballistics expert and weapons instructor for pro-democracy movements. Now he maintained a quiet life in Miami and was active in his church.
As Seibert read the Schiller memo on the way to Mese's office, the brutality of the Sun Gym gang reminded him of his years in Latin America, where such incidents were the common consequence of business, ideology, or drugs. This doesn't happen in America, he thought. Then he adjusted his thinking: This is Miami. Everything goes. But like Du Bois, he noticed something odd -- there was no ransom request. Schiller, it seemed, was completely disposable
As usual Du Bois didn't carry a gun. As usual Seibert carried two. The detective already had checked out the building's entrances with his own investigators, whose cell phones were programmed to speed-dial the police and emergency services. When everyone was in place, he and Seibert walked in for the appointment.
Mese asked Du Bois and Seibert to wait in the reception area; Lugo and Delgado hadn't arrived. A short time later Mese strolled through to announce Delgado was on his way. Du Bois pulled out a photo of Schiller and asked Mese if he looked familiar. No, Mese couldn't say for sure this was the guy who came to his office with the documents for notarization. "Ed," he laughed, "you know all those Latins look alike."
Delgado arrived alone and Du Bois quickly sized him up. His demeanor was meek; he possessed few if any of the ingredients that establish a strong first impression. He was thin even, certainly not the goon they were expecting. Mese made the introductions, ushered them into an empty office, and left.
Delgado asked to see Schiller's letter as well as the house deed and the change-of-beneficiary form. He took his time inspecting them before handing the papers back to Du Bois. "This is all over a business deal," he said languidly, as if he were dismissing the matter and there was nothing more to say. His tone, his attitude began to grate on the detective.
"Well, is it customary in your business deals," asked Du Bois, "to kidnap someone, keep them hostage for a month, beat them, torture them, try to kill them, and blow them up?"
"I'm not going to comment on that," Delgado replied, growing edgy.
Du Bois jabbed a thick index finger in Delgado's face. "It finally dawned on me as to what really happened here."
"Yeah, really? What?" came the challenge.
"Had you killed Marc Schiller that night, as you had intended, this would have been a perfect crime," Du Bois hissed. "You had his cash, property, cars, home, plus a two-million-dollar bonus if he died. You had his family leave the country, him playing a role about a young girl and a midlife crisis. You had his phone calls diverted from his home to the warehouse, where you had him chained to a wall."
"If he died you would have been successful," said Du Bois, now sneering. "But guess what, asshole? Schiller is alive and well, and we are going to put your ass in jail!"
Delgado flushed slightly.
Mese rejoined the discussion now, and Delgado, who suddenly was conciliatory and seemed to want out of the room fast, suggested another meeting. He'd bring in Lugo tomorrow to explain the whole situation. They'd meet at Mese's branch office in Miami Lakes.
The next morning at 9:00 Du Bois and Seibert arrived in Miami Lakes. The detective decided to drop his back-up team simply because Delgado had cut such an unimpressive figure. Outside the building he glanced at the tenant directory. A mortgage firm, JoMar Properties, was on the third floor. It was Delgado's company, a holdover from the days when he and Marc Schiller were partners.
Mese was late, and neither Delgado nor Lugo were there. Mese's office was open, however, so they went in. The reception room was dominated by a popcorn machine topped with a glass bubble, and chess sets everywhere -- wood, brass, marble, onyx. Du Bois beat Seibert in two quick games. Growing bored, the detective stepped out to the balcony for some fresh air. Seibert decided to take a walk through the office complex. He went upstairs to check out JoMar Properties. The office was closed. Odd for a weekday, he thought.
Mese finally showed at 10:30 a.m., and expressed surprise to see them. "Gee, Ed, what are you guys doing here?" he asked. It was as if he'd stumbled into fellow members of an Edison High School alumni group while touring Calcutta.
"Listen, John," began Du Bois, noticing that Mese was sweating. "We had a meeting scheduled at nine o'clock. We set it up yesterday, remember? Now where are Lugo and Delgado?"
Mese hastened to assure him the two were on their way. In the interim the detective could go over his client files on Sun Gym, take whatever notes he needed, and request photocopies of anything important. He escorted Du Bois and Seibert to a vacant room and seated them at a desk cluttered with an overflowing ashtray and two champagne glasses stained with the sweet residue of a cordial. Then he left them alone.
Du Bois quickly reviewed the papers, an unremarkable collection of corporate filings, nothing significant. Bored, Seibert began going through the trash can under the desk. He knew garbage could be golden. And sure enough most of the discarded paper contained references to Sun Gym and the Schiller abduction suspects. An envelope from Central Bank contained the January 1995 bank statements of Sun Fitness Consultants, Inc., located at the same address as Sun Gym.
Amazingly Mese had ushered them into the room Lugo used for his own office, the very room, in fact, where the gang had planned Schiller's kidnapping. Now it held damaging links between Mese and the abduction. Glancing at the champagne glasses and the ashtray, Du Bois believed two people had been up all night throwing this stuff away. They must have assumed the cleaning crew would be in later.
The candy store of evidence showed that in January 1995, the Sun Gym gang wrote various checks totaling $163,969.57. Du Bois was incredulous. "Now, how does a shit operation like Sun Fitness blow through almost 200 grand in a month?" he asked. The money had to represent a portion of Schiller's stolen fortune.
In part the payees included the cast of characters who starred in the Schiller abduction. Thirty grand alone went to Carl Weekes. The U.S. government also received a portion of the Schiller bounty: A cashier's check for $67,845 paid off Lugo's court-ordered restitution from a 1991 fraud conviction. (Lugo still was on parole and couldn't possibly explain the sudden acquisition of 70 grand on his Sun Gym salary. So his boss, Mese, had purchased the cashier's check. Mese attached a letter stating he'd paid that much for a software program Lugo created for the gym. Through old-fashioned money laundering, they moved the funds from Schiller's Cayman Islands offshore accounts to Sun Fitness Consultants to Mese's Sun Gym account to Central Bank, where Mese & Associates had an operational account and where Mese bought the cashier's check.
The mysterious Lillian Torres, Adrian Doorbal, The Spy Shop, and JoMar Properties also profited from Schiller's forced signatures. Du Bois and Seibert couldn't believe their good fortune. This was like striking oil with the thrust of a teaspoon. They began stuffing the papers into their jacket pockets until they realized there simply was too much product. They filled their briefcases and then unlocked the door. If Du Bois ever harbored doubt about Mese's involvement, it was now gone. He believed his old pal was the CFO of a torture-for-profit gang.
At last Jorge Delgado showed up, alone, and Du Bois, buoyed by Mese's colossal mistake, launched into his list of accusations.