The body of Beranton Whisenant Jr., a federal prosecutor with the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, was found this week on a beach in Hollywood, Florida.
Whisenant, 37, spent more than nine years at Foley & Mansfield, a national litigation firm where he made partner in 2013. He left the firm in January to join the the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a profile on professional networking site LinkedIn. In private practice, Whisenant specialized in product liability, medical malpractice, toxic torts and securities litigation work.
Various news reports state that Whisenant’s body was found with head trauma, but a cause of death has not yet been determined. Miranda Grossman, a spokeswoman for the Hollywood police department, said that a beachgoer saw Whisenant early Wednesday morning close to shore. Grossman said detectives are trying to determine if his death was a homicide, suicide or something else. One resident told a local television station that Whisenant was dressed in casual clothing with all his personal effects on him.
Court records show that Whisenant has been handling several visa and passport fraud cases since joining the Justice Department earlier this year. Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg, who took over the Southern District of Florida after predecessor Wifredo Ferrer joined Holland & Knight in March, called Whisenant a “great lawyer and wonderful colleague.”
Whisenant’s body was found by a passerby in the water, and police pulled him ashore, police spokesman Christian Lata said.
Greenberg’s office declined to comment on the investigation into Whisenant’s death. If foul play is found to have had a role, Whisenant would join a small list of U.S. prosecutors slain in the line of duty. A decade ago, a group representing federal prosecutors pushed for home alarms, secure parking facilities and other protections following the murders of assistant U.S. attorneys Jonathan Luna in Baltimore and Thomas Wales in Seattle.
Both of those cases remain unsolved.