Broward County

Federal prosecutor found dead along the beach

A federal prosecutor who worked at the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami has been identified as the man found dead along Hollywood beach this week in a case being investigated as a crime.

Hollywood police confirmed that the deceased man is Beranton J. Whisenant Jr., 37, of Miramar. A police spokeswoman said he may have suffered a head wound caused by a possible gunshot or other type of trauma.

“The investigation is still very preliminary,” Hollywood Police Department spokeswoman Miranda Grossman said, adding that detectives and the Broward medical examiner are “still looking at it.”

The FBI’s Miami office said it was aware of Whisenant’s death but referred questions to Hollywood police.

Normally, if the death of a federal prosecutor or agent were retaliatory in nature or related to a criminal case, both the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office would be sounding the alarm and pursuing an aggressive investigation.

Whisenant, who was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2004 after graduating from the University of Florida law school, joined the U.S. attorney’s office earlier this year and worked in the major crimes section.

The office, which prosecutes criminal and civil cases from Key West to Fort Pierce, issued a statement Thursday.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office family was deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Beranton’s death,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg. “He was a great lawyer and wonderful colleague, and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with Beranton’s family and friends.”

An email about Whisenant’s death was circulated among prosecutors and other employees, but it did not comment about the circumstances or cause.

Colleagues expressed shock over his death.

A friend who knew Whisenant, Miami lawyer Michael Feiler, said “he was the epitome of a gentleman and possessed an exceptional legal mind.”

Feiler said he had worked for the Miami law firm Foley & Mansfield before joining the U.S. attorney’s office. “He was very motivated by public service,” Feiler said. “He volunteered for the Florida Bar and planned to become a judge.”

Whisenant lived in Miramar with his wife, Ebony, a physician who teaches at Florida International University’s College of Medicine. They are parents of three children.

It’s unclear where Whisenant actually died. His body was found washing up on the shore just south of Magnolia Terrace on Hollywood beach early Wednesday by a passerby.

“All I can confirm is that it is him,” Grossman said.

Miami Herald staff writer Susan Miller Degnan contributed to this report.