Monday, 25 January 2016

Danny Lugo and Adrian Doorbal: horrible killers                          

There are a great many horrible killers in the world and Danny Lugo and Adrian Doorbal are two of them. I learned about these horrible killers while watching the TV show, “48 Hours” on January 11, 2016.

Danny Lugo was was born on April 6, 1963 and was a Puerto Rican-Cuban kid from the Bronx who had served time in prison for running a phony loan scam operation. After his release, he became the manager of a suburban Miami health club called Sun Gym. He thought he was smarter than anybody else however he had a way of convincing people to do things they initially didn't want to do.

Adrian Doorbal, 24 was Lugo's protégé. He was just an evil as Lugo. He was a steroid freak. He is 5 foot 7 tall and 5 foot 7 wide. He'd do anything and everything that Danny Lugo told him to do.

In May 1995, Danny Lugo and Adrian Doorbal would be at the center of one of the most notorious crimes in Miami history—a complicated and deadly plot that involved kidnapping and murder with money as the motive.

Eighteen years later, the story was too much for Hollywood to resist. In the new movie Pain and Gain, Lugo is portrayed by Mark Wahlberg. The film, released by Paramount Pictures, is part of Viacom, a company affiliated with CBS. The movie captures what Lugo was about in real life: his infatuation with getting rich. With the little money he had, he spent a lot of it at the Solid Gold Strip Club giving thousands to the exotic strippers.

It was here that he began an affair with a one-time Penthouse model-turned exotic dancer named Sabina Petrescu. She was another recent immigrant who made a splash in Miami. She was a finalist in the Miss Romania contest in 1990 then she came to the United States to begin a modeling career. She made it onto the pages of Penthouse magazine, but filled the rest of her time as an exotic dancer. Lugo treated her well.  He even gave her a brand new BMW.

Deep in a steroids-fueled delusion, Lugo and Doorbal devised a scheme to kidnap wealthy Miami businessman Mark Schiller (renamed Victor Kershaw in the movie and played by movie star, Tony Shalhoub).

Schiller was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and with his parents he immigrated to the United States when he was seven years old. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. By the age of nine he started several small businesses to fund his educational and personal needs. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, participating in sports and was member of the school's track team. He remained in Brooklyn until he moved to Milwaukee to attend the University of Wisconsin.

He was a smart man. He had a successful career as an entrepreneur and as a professional working for several large companies occupying several positions as an accountant, controller, CFO and auditor in public accounting with such companies as Ernst and Whinney and Enserch. His professional career has spanned the United States as well as internationally for US based companies in Colombia and Ecuador. On an entrepreneurial level, Schiller has launched several successful businesses including accounting practices both in Miami and Houston, a delicatessen in Miami, a vending company and two options and stock trading companies. Schiller received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in accounting and a MBA in finance from  Benedictine University. He was also involved and convicted of a scam involving money.

Schiller was kidnapped on November 15, 1994. It took six tries to grab Schiller, and then Lugo, Doorbal and John Carl Mese (who was friends with the other two) finally succeeded in kidnapping him.

For four weeks, Schiller remained under guard there; tied up, his eyes taped shut and his body covered in urine while they punched him, pistol-whipped him, tortured him with a Taser and a cigarette lighter and starved him.  Schiller finally signed documents he couldn't actually see. In doing so, he transferred the sales of his homes, his life insurance and his offshore investments and transferred them to the kidnappers 'bank accounts.

After he signed away his assets, his captors decided to kill Schiller by staging what appeared to be a drunk-driving accident. He was forced to consume a large amount of alcohol and sleeping pills. Lugo took Schiller’s car and ran it into a utility pole to make it appear as though Schiller was involved in an accident. He was then placed in the driver's seat while semi-conscious and gasoline was poured over the vehicle and it was set on fire. Schiller awoke and fled the burning vehicle. The captors noticed his escape and ran him over with their car twice.  They later discovered that Schiller had survived the attempt to kill him and set out to kill him in the hospital he was sent to but could not find him because he previously arranged to be transferred to a New York hospital for his protection. Schiller attempted to notify the police as to what had happened to him but his story was not believed by the police—which isn’t the not only time ignorant cops screw up. While Schiller was in New York, Lugo and his group of thugs emptied his houses and bank accounts leaving Schiller broke.

Meanwhile while Schiller hid, his captors were living it up, They used Schiller's millions to put down payments on homes in Broward County and purchase stereos and flashy sports cars.

 By May 1995, the group found themselves enticed by a much wealthier man. They targeted self-made Hungarian millionaire Frank Griga who was born in 1962 and was 33 when he was kidnapped and his girlfriend, Krisztina Furton who was 23 years of age when she too was also kidnapped. Frank had made a fortune in the adult hotline business and had met Krisztina, an exotic dancer, while searching for models for his advertisements.

All it took was the photograph of Frank Griga's yellow Lamborghini, and the group had found their new victim. Griga's girlfriend, 23-year-old Krisztina Furton.

On May 24, Griga, 33, and Furton, 23 were taken from their Golden Beach home, beaten and drugged with horse tranquilizers at Doorbal's condominium. Their goal was to have Griga sign away his $5 million empire of telephone-sex lines.

Griga's torture session ended in death. The thugs were forced to turn to Furton to get the security codes of Griga’s computer that would lead to Griga's computer records. Unfortunately for them, Furton had been pumped so full of tranquilizers that her chest muscles paralyzed her lungs. The 105-pound Furton died of an overdose before she could give them the correct codes.

The next day, the murderers took the two bodies to the Hialeah warehouse. where they powered up the chain saw they had just purchased for the task and started with their victim’s heads, That chain saw got jammed in Krisztina's hair, so they returned the saw from where they purchased it and purchased an axe instead and chopped their victim’s bodies into pieces and placed them in several drums in which their bodies were later liquefied, leaving them no place to be properly buried.  

The couple had vanished from the face of the earth. Three weeks later, their torsos were found inside metal drums sunk in a murky canal. Griga’s yellow Lamborghini was found earlier in the area of one of Florida’s swamps. 


So began the unraveling of the most diabolical death-for-dollars plot in history. All evidence led investigators to Miami's Sun Gym—a Mecca for serious bodybuilders. The gym's owner, Lugo, two muscle-bound managers, and a steroid-crazed personal trainer were the ringleaders of a gang that targeted wealthy Floridians for kidnapping, extortion, and death. This is the story of how a band of brutal thugs planned to make a fortune from fear and blood—and how the quick actions of the authorities stopped the gang before any more innocents were killed.

By day, these horrible criminals pumped iron and when they weren’t pumping iron, they were pillaging the bank books of their imprisoned deli king, (Shiller) and brutally murdering a wealthy Hungarian man and his girlfriend and now it was time for these monsters from hell to pay for their horrendous deeds.

In opening arguments, lead prosecutor Gail Levine spared none of the grisly details of the abductions and tortures the three friends who were accused of masterminding the murderers. That story of Levine was long on gore and short on evidence, defense attorneys countered. They mostly pointed to the prosecution's main witness, Jorge Delgado, as a convicted accomplice who made a sweetheart deal in exchange for reduced jail time.

Mese, 56, a former bodybuilder and a certified public accountant who had part ownership in Sun Gym, would notarize the money transfers, prosecutors said. Lugo, and Doorbal, were the brawn of the operation. Delgado introduced Lugo to Marcelo Schiller, owner of a Schlotsky's Deli franchise. Delgado knew Schiller had offshore accounts and several expensive homes, Levine said. Delgado also knew the entry code to one of Schiller's homes and that Schiller, an Argentine, harbored a childhood distrust for police and authority.

In May 1998, the court clerk read a litany of guilty verdicts with respect to the gang of extortionists whose greedy plot ended in one of South Florida's most gruesome double murders. By the time the Miami-Dade County clerk caught her breath, Daniel Lugo had been found guilty of 40 counts, ranging from murder to kidnapping and extortion. Lugo, then 35, a sat stone-faced as he heard the verdicts of the jury being read out in the courtroom.

Two co-defendants, Adrian Doorbal, 23, and John Carl Mese, 59, heard a similar string of guilty verdicts from a second jury.

Sentencing was set for May 26; several weeks after the verdicts of the two juries were read.

Judge Alex Ferrer was the trial judge and after he retired, he later became TV’s “Judge Alex” with his own afternoon court show. Ferrer sentenced Lugo and Doorbal to death, twice each for the two murders they committed. At the time of this writing, both men are still on Florida’s death row. No doubt they will be there for many more years before they are put to death.

I know the exact place where they are going to be executed. In 1981, I was invited by Florida’s Director of Corrections to visit Florida’s Starke Penitentiary and while I was in that correctional facility, I was shown the room where the executions take place. At that time, the electric chair was still the mode of executions. As I sat on the electric chair, the procedures were explained to me. Years later, the chair was no longer used. Nowadays, as in many other states, death for the condemned is brought about by lethal injection.

In 1980, I addressed a United Nations crime conference held in Caracas, Venezuela in which I suggested that there are times when the death penalty is appropriate. When I returned to Canada, I was invited to speak about capital punishment on a cross-Canada TV show. I more or less said the same thing I said in Caracas.   

Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976.  Previously to the days that the parliamentary vote by the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate took place, I wrote a paper on the subject that was given to all the members of the House of Commons and the senators. In my paper, I expressed my concern that there was a risk of innocent people being executed and gave them an incident where a man was executed and years later, it was learned that he was represented by a lawyer who was insane during the man’s trial and his later appeals. I also wrote in my paper that the police finally realized that wrong man was hanged. Diefenbaker, the former prime minister and an abolitionist and I met years later and he told me that when he read my report, he called his political party together and insisted that they vote against capital punishment; which they did.

However, I have no qualms about judges sentencing terrorists and murderers like Lugo and Doorbal to death.

There were others involved in the crimes I have mentioned in this article. John Carl Mese – convicted, sentenced to 56 years (died in prison). Jorge Delgado – pled guilty, sentenced to 13 years in prison, released 11/27/2002. Carl Weekes – convicted, sentenced to 10 years in prison, released 5/15/2002. Stevenson Pierre – convicted, sentenced to 7 years in prison, released 5/24/2001 and John Raimondo – pled guilty (to kidnapping), sentenced to 8 years in prison, released 2/27/2002.

Sabina Petrescu was not charged with any crime and actually testified against her former lover, Danny Lugo. 

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