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"Nevin was a phenomenal athlete, actually," says Todd Zusmer, a friend who later played pickup basketball with Shapiro. "He was short, but he was one of the fastest guys out there."
He was also an obsessive University of Miami fan. In 1992, a Miami Herald reporter interviewed the then-23-year-old Shapiro in the Orange Bowl stands during a Hurricanes game. As the 'Canes fell behind , the writer described Shapiro as looking like "a caged animal about to be cornered... [or] a man in dire need of sleep. He looked crazed."
Years later, a judge asked one of Shapiro's friends whether the Beach High grad ever becomes violently angry. The reply: "Only when the Hurricanes are losing."
The year after Shapiro graduated from high school, his mom remarried to a Canadian named Richard Armand Adam. His new stepdad seemed like an ex-pat businessman on the way up — he owned a condo in South Beach and ran a loan company called RAA International that earned more than $700,000 during the next five years.
Adam quickly attracted a partner in Connecticut, opened an office in Fort Lauderdale, and formed two firms. He did so well that the family moved into a spacious house in ritzy Lighthouse Point. Nevin got his first taste of wealth there. Adam bought two yachts — a 38-foot Wellcraft and a vintage, 1963 Roamer yacht named The Mitz — and leased a Cadillac Seville.
A few days after his 26th birthday, Shapiro led his friends to the Stephen Talkhouse after dinner at a nearby pizza parlor. Honerkamp, the club's owner, remembers the gold chains weighing down his neck, the entitled look in his eyes, and the need to make his friends believe he had the power to get them in for free. "He wanted to be a player," Honerkamp says.
When Shapiro was caught, he lashed out as violently as possible. Honerkamp, who now runs a Long Island club, says his eye was gruesomely lacerated by his assailant's ring. He visited five hospitals to find a specialist. "I thought he'd totally ripped off the skin under my eye, but his ring had actually bunched it into a big ball," he says. "He basically destroyed my tear duct."
Honerkamp wore a stent in his eye for a year and never regained full function. Shapiro, meanwhile, hid in Lighthouse Point. When he was arrested two months later, he lined up friends to testify that, in fact, Honerkamp had attacked him. But he must not have felt his case was strong — he pleaded guilty to felony assault in exchange for 18 months probation and anger counseling courses.
"I glared at him the whole time in court, but he never said one word to me," Honerkamp says. "This guy was all about himself. He was just a short guy who wanted to act like a Napoleon sack of shit.
"I'm forgiving, and if he'd just simply come to me and said, 'I did an insane thing... it was in the heat of the moment,' I would have been willing to just have my expenses paid and let it drop," he adds. "But the scumbag didn't have the balls. He has no balls."
Soon after pleading guilty to the attack, Shapiro's home life fell apart. His stepfather, Richard Adam, was arrested on a federal warrant in 1997 in his native Ontario. It turned out his burgeoning businesses were based on a scam. Adam and his partners would promise firms and wealthy entrepreneurs that they could secure loans in exchange for up-front fees. The plan was so sophisticated that Adam would often fly prospects to Luxembourg, where his overseas accounts were held, to seal the deal. But the big loans never came, and Adam kept the fees. He stole almost $6 million that way.
Adam would spend almost six years in Canadian jails fighting extradition before pleading guilty to fraud.
Did Adam's white-collar crime, so similar to the one Nevin Shapiro would commit a decade later, influence his stepson? In a brief interview from Canada, where she now lives with her husband, Nevin Shapiro's mother, Ronnie, says, "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That case is over and done with. I can't tell you anything else about it."
By 2008, this was the setting for Nevin Shapiro's life: a $6 million mansion on Bay Road with a burbling Spanish-tiled fountain in a shady front courtyard and a pool deck out back that offered 180-degree views of Biscayne Bay and Miami's skyline.
Inside, dominating the living room, was a huge television surrounded by a half-dozen smaller monitors. LED panels shone onto the wood-paneled living room and the vintage pool table. A huge mechanically controlled projection screen scrolled down in front of his bed. Two flat screens were even embedded into the kitchen wall, right next to the two ovens, presumably so Shapiro could bake and watch sports at the same time.
To round it all out, there was the $1.5 million Riviera yacht and the $4,700-per-month Mercedes. Then there were the personal touches like the pinball machine, the vintage tabletop arcade game, and the autographed Hurricanes football helmet. Finally, there were the photos: Shapiro getting bench-pressed by Shaq, shaking hands with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, watching the 'Canes on their practice field.