Saturday, February 09, 2008

AUSA allegedly assaulted by local lawyer

Saturday is usually a slow blog day, but loyal readers asked me to post this story from the Sun-Sentinel about a local attorney being arrested for assault on an AUSA in Ft. Lauderdale, so here it is:

A private attorney has been charged with physically assaulting a federal prosecutor in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom by shaking her hand up and down so hard that it injured her shoulder.Kathy Brewer Rentas spent Thursday night in solitary confinement at the Miami Federal Detention Center. She was released on a $100,000 bond on Friday morning and ordered to get a psychological evaluation to see if she needs counseling or anger management training."It all stems from a handshake," said Brewer Rentas' attorney, Gwendolyn Tuggle. "In her mind she never intended to cause any harm to any federal official."

Just a handshake, huh? Let's see....

Brewer Rentas, 49, of Pembroke Pines, went to court Thursday morning for a hearing involving her husband, Anthony Rentas, who is on federal probation for distributing cocaine in New York.

Rentas admitted violating the terms of his release.After U.S. District Judge William Zloch ordered that Rentas be put on house arrest for 90 days and complete his probation, court officials said Brewer Rentas insisted on shaking hands with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Keene.

"Keene did not shake Brewer's hand at first, but Brewer insisted that she do so and continued to follow Keene," wrote Deputy U.S. Marshall Robert Kremenik in a misdemeanor arrest report."Brewer forcefully grabbed onto Keene's right hand and squeezed it, pulling Keene toward her, forcing Keene off balance. With Keene in hand, Brewer made an upward, then a quick downward motion and pulled Keene toward the ground moving her forward, almost causing Keene to fall to the ground," the marshal wrote.

Keene's head and neck were snapped forward, then backward, as a result of the force applied by Brewer Rentas, causing Keene's shoulder and arm to be jerked forward, Kremenik wrote.

Gilberto Pay, a court security officer, told investigators that Brewer Rentas almost pulled Keene's arm out of its socket. He said he thought it was an intentional act to assault Keene. "He said that it was definitely more than a handshake," according to court records.

Yikes. That hurts!

Brewer Rentas, a commercial litigation attorney for a prominent Hollywood law firm, is charged with a federal misdemeanor. If found guilty, she faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison. She could also face disciplinary proceedings by the Florida Bar, the organization that polices attorney conduct.

That firm is Becker Poliakoff (I think). And here is her profile (I think). I say I think because I couldn't find a Kathy Brewer Rentas on the Florida Bar website. I could only find Kathy Rentas.

Keene was out of work on Friday because of the injury and declined to comment when reached by phone.Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Florida, said prosecutors are threatened on occasion but an allegation of assault by a licensed attorney in a courtroom is unusual."Assaulting a federal officer is something that we will take very seriously and prosecute vigorously," Valle said. "As a member of the bar, she should know better."

SDFLA blog readers -- assuming the facts as true, what should happed to Ms. Rentas? For the record, I know Jennifer Keene. She is professional and very fair. If someone had asked me to guess which AUSA was assaulted, she would be the last person I would think of.


Anonymous said...

Pre-trial diversion

Anonymous said...

She should be sentenced to mud wrestle with the biggest, meanest AUSA, with Alicia Valle officiating. Oops there are no AUSAs who qualify. How about the USAtty himself?

Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog because it was on Rick's blog and after reading the first post, I figured this was satire.

This couldn't possibly be true. A handshake. Solitary confinement. $100,000 bond.

The quote, "It all stems from a handshake."

But then I clicked on it and sure enough it lead to the Sun-Sentinel.

But I swear, this reads totally like satire.

Anonymous said...


Who do you think is the AUSA most likely to be assaulted?

David Oscar Markus said...

How did I know that someone would ask...

Anonymous said...

Let's persecute ballplayers for taking steroids; who cares if our lawyers follow the rules.Our athletes should be morally upstanding citizens, not those who practice within the justice system. Our corporate sponsored lawyers provide real service. Ms. Rentas should be free to continue to serve the best interest of her clients! Afterall, it is the corporations who really set the example of fair and equal practice.

Anonymous said...

One of my buddy's recently got into some trouble at a bar and the short story is he was arrested on assault charges which are ridiculous we were there and watched as a random guy came up to him punched him in the face and began repeatedly beating him. He stood up to defend himself and in the crossfire the wasted dude fell and banged his head on the kerb. The cops show up and don't want to hear us and arrest him.
It all got cleared up in the end but had that have gone to court and my friend had to have paid court bonds could he have claimed them back or even sued the police force for wrongful arrest? Also where would be the best place for getting bonded?