MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – Nevin Shapiro is at the heart of the scandal currently enveloping the University of Miami. But the question’s surrounding the investigation is just beginning and the main one many people have is, who exactly is Nevin Shapiro?
Shapiro is a convicted Ponzi schemer and UM booster who has deep roots here on Miami Beach.
While he was born in New Jersey, he grew up in this city and lived for years in a building just east of the 79th Street Causeway on East Treasure Drive in North Bay Village.
It is a stark contrast to his last residence, in an upscale neighborhood a block away from Alton Road and his multi-million dollar home that has been sold, according to a housekeeper.
CBS4′s Peter D’Oench discovered that Shapiro was a 1986 graduate of Miami Beach High School, where he is featured on two different pages in the yearbook: one as a member of the debate team and another page as a member of the graduating class.
The yearbook also mentions that he was on the J.V. basketball team and the Varsity wrestling team.
In his neighborhood where he last lived in the 5300 block of North Bay Road, no one who CBS4 spoke with wanted to go on camera.
“We just don’t want to say anything,” said one unidentified neighbor.
But off camera, they told CBS4 they were acutely aware of the accusations about Shapiro. He had not lived near the neighbors for 15 months, around the time he started serving his 20-year term for defrauding more than 50 investors of up to $100 million dollars.
“We think he was out for revenge,” said another unidentified neighbor. “Because we know that he was upset that the University of Miami did not stand by its booster.”
Shapiro was once described by many as UM’s best booster during a 9-year period from 2001 to 2010 in which he gave the school $150,000.
In an expose following an 11-month investigation, Yahoo! Sports said Shapiro provided thousands of impermissible gifts to 72 athletes including cash, entertainment, prostitutes, access to his yacht and paid trips to restaurants and nightclubs.
“We know what was going on,” said the neighbor. “We just don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to talk about him.”
In an exclusive interview with CBS4′s Sports Director Jim Berry, Shapiro said, “There were people inside the program that not only had knowledge but were involved as co conspirators.”
From his federal prison in Atlanta, Shapiro said, “Why would anyone believe me? I got over a thousand pictures to make them believe me and 10 years of bank statements and checks and credit card statements.”
He predicted dire consequences for the UM following an NCAA investigation.
“I could tell you what I think,” he told Berry. “The death penalty. It’s not my problem anymore.”
Shapiro was even called “Little Luke” because, like rapper Luther Campbell, he admitted to paying UM players for big plays.