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
After heeding Du Bois' 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.
Current status: Still pounding the private-eye beat
When Lugo, Doorbal, Delgado, and nine accomplices were arrested, Du Bois pitched author Collins the idea of writing a book about the Sun Gym Gang. Collins took on the assignment, but even with the story published in New Times, a deal never materialized. Then in 2012, Du Bois received a call from Collins that Bay was going to make Pain & Gain.
"I was just glad that someone was finally doing it," he affirms.
Du Bois hasn't read the script, but he has a cameo role. "I know as much about as it as you do," Du Bois says.
The P.I. got to reconnect with his former client when shooting began in mid-2012. Du Bois and Schiller had not seen each other since the latter went to prison in 1999, but they reignited their friendship when the movie's producers asked his help in tracking Marc down. "He's a hero," Du Bois says of Schiller. "He took the stand against these demons after everything they put him through."
The 66-year-old Du Bois has no plans to retire. He is still the NFL's investigator and security consultant. With his agency, he runs everything from run-of-the-mill tails on philandering spouses to sophisticated investigations into white-collar crimes.
And to unwind, the private eye pens his own blues music. With all the hype around the film, Du Bois wanted to leave his mark on the twisted tale. So he composed "Pain & Gain — Retribution Song." He played a rough cut for Clay Ostwald, a former Miami Sound Machine musician, and Tommy Anthony, a guitarist for Santana. "Both of them loved it and joined me on the final recording," says Du Bois, who's selling the cut on iTunes and CD Baby.
Name: Pete Collins
Played by: Not in the movie but gets an onscreen credit for writing the tale
Real-life role: Former Miami New Times writer who penned the Sun Gym Gang's story
Collins was out on his daily jog one morning in Miami Shores when Du Bois stopped him. "Pete, I got this great idea for a story," Du Bois recollects.
It didn't hurt that after leaving New Times in 1990, Collins had entered a master's degree writing program and was looking for a thesis. The two men agreed to collaborate. For about a year-and-a-half before the trial began, Collins banged out drafts based on reams of court documents. Collins later pitched the tale as a 30,000-word story to New Times editors, who bought it.
"The reason some publishers and producers initially hesitated was because they thought the story lacked a true hero," Collins says. "People died, and the story ended tragically — not your typical happy Hollywood ending."
Current status: Collins resides in Orlando, where he is finishing his book on the Sun Gym Gang.
One year after his feature was published in New Times, Collins negotiated a deal with Paramount Pictures. "It was Michael [Bay] who saw the Fargo and Pulp Fiction-esque qualities of the tale," Collins says. "I didn't quite believe it until I saw the headline in Variety magazine announcing Paramount purchased my story."
But rather than make the quirky comedy, the studio wanted Bay to concentrate on blockbusters like the Transformers franchise. So the director blackmailed Paramount. "Michael worked out a deal with Paramount that he would do this before he did another Transformers film," Ian Bryce, one of the films' two producers, told New Times in April 2012.
In early 2012, Collins got a call from the other producer, Donald De Line. The writer landed a contract as a consultant to the screenwriting team. Collins was invited on set and talked to actors about their characters. His name is plastered on movie posters.
Today, Collins is wrapping up his ebook and working on two other projects, about another Miami true crime story and a memoir on growing up in '60s Dade. "I haven't seen the movie yet," Collins says. "But I can tell you it was a real thrill to be on the set of a major Hollywood movie that I wrote, filmed within blocks of my childhood home in El Portal. That was surreal."
Place: Sun Gym, 6135 NW 167th St., Ste. 14, Miami Lakes
Depicted by: A big-windowed building at NE 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, Miami
Key description: "Just north of Miami Lakes, Sun Gym was a serious bodybuilder's hangout, run under the watchful eye of Daniel Lugo, its charismatic, fast-talking manager. Anyone could join, of course, but if you were soft and puffy, you were way out of your league here. Sun Gym's favored lads were thick and ripped. This was not a place for weekend warriors."