By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Sandler could afford the raises, the two former employees say: The deli was clearing about $14,000 a day in season. Although it was a private, cash-based business and Sandler kept numbers close to his chest, Dowler says: "I knew how much we were spending in food. I knew how much we were spending in labor. It was pretty obvious the place was profiting."
As the business grew, Sandler became less visible. He'd pop in once a week to pay bills. Still, he seemed more suited for work than leisure. With the exception of flying his four-seat aircraft, "every hobby he had was given up within a few months because he has no friends," Dowler says. "He took my brother and I fishing, and the whole time, he just reminded us how much it cost. He bought a Harley, but you can only go riding by yourself for so long." Hardy recalled a golf outing where Sandler became furious and threw his clubs in the water. "Everything was all about winning."
Sandler had met Blanche "Betty" Schuessler in Miami. They married on October 3, 1981. While Glenn worked and tried to play, Betty settled into her role as the ultimate stay-at-home mom. Along with their two kids and two dogs, the couple lived in the Aero Club, a private community in Wellington, where they had a personal airplane hangar next to their two-car garage. Glenn took joyrides in his plane or went on vacation alone; Betty minded the house, covered PTA meetings, and went to the gym every day. The six-foot-two Glenn was a jeans-and-white-sneakers kind of guy who refused to dress up, even for weddings. Betty, a foot shorter, kept her brown hair nicely done. She appointed herself with gold jewelry and sported the same designer purse that everyone in Wellington had.
Dowler and Hardy believed their boss had lots of money even before he bought the deli. He'd been a regional manager for a chain of drugstores, he said, and he gave them the vague impression that he'd gotten rich by partnering with a chemist and helping to patent a drug. He didn't mention anything about trafficking in drugs.
Despite the Sandlers' affluence and all-American appearance, deli employees predicted they'd divorce as soon as their boys graduated from high school. Says Dowler: "There's no way a lady that nice could live with an asshole like that for that many years."
When the couple separated in July 2004, Sandler moved out. "He acted sad and hurt for a whole two days," Dowler says. Then the man who wasn't known as a drinker or a partier started making up for his married years. He got Lasik eye surgery and a nose job. He would come in to the deli with his hair messed up and make a point of showing off a new lady friend.
Betty, meanwhile, worried about hanging onto her lifestyle. Her 30-year-old cosmetology license was no longer of use, and she had no marketable skills. Divorce court would determine her financial future.
For Glenn, the breakup was a battle he had to win. Dowler remembers him keeping score during the proceedings. "He'd say, 'I'm up 2-1. I got the dog and the car; she's got the kids.'?" Hardy agrees: "Real vicious. Under any circumstances, he would not lose. If it cost him a million dollars to not lose, he'd pay it."
One day, Dowler recalls, Sandler came into work and warned, "?'Things are going to get real ugly -- bear with me.' He made a comment like, 'I'd be better off killing her.' Of course, I didn't take that as anything."
Chris Robinson says he met Glenn Sandler in the fall of 2005, through a prostitute. Soon, he said, Sandler was a regular visitor at Robinson's room at the Super 8 Motel on Hypoluxo Road. Sandler would buy a chunk of crack -- a "cookie" -- on a regular basis. The restaurateur would go through half an ounce a week, "a lot of crack," Robinson said.
Sandler would give him $800 for an ounce of coke, Robinson said. They'd drive to a dealer's house in Boynton Beach, where Robinson said his brothers lived. Sandler would wait outside in the truck while Robinson purchased half an ounce of crack for $350. He'd tell Sandler it was an ounce, he said, and pocket the difference, $450. Did he feel guilty? He did not. If people didn't know the market, he said, "they was ripping theyself off."
For his part, Sandler did not seem to have any reservations about hanging out at the Super 8 with a street-level criminal like Robinson, and he apparently never suspected that Robinson was ripping him off. He borrowed Robinson's room for a tryst with a hooker, Robinson said, and he lent Robinson his truck. He once even loaned Robinson $1,000 for no particular reason, Robinson said. "He was just throwing out money." Then, one day, Sandler told him "that he wanted a birthday party for his girl -- for his wife.
"And I basically asked him, 'Well, what do you mean?' And he was like, 'I want her out. I want her dead.'?"