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Tribute to OIG Special Agent William “Buddy” Sentner


On October 22, 2008, President Bush honored Buddy Sentner by posthumously awarding him the Medal of Valor, the highest national award for a public safety officer. Buddy’s widow, Maria, and his parents accepted the award from the President in the Oval Office of the White House. Later that day, Attorney General Mukasey honored Buddy and other award recipients during a special ceremony in his office.

Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice

St. James Cathedral, Orlando, Florida

June 24, 2006

Buddy Sentner was a hero. He was also a husband, son, brother, valued colleague, and a good friend to many. And for all of us gathered here today to honor him, especially to his wife, Maria, his mother, his father, his step parents, his brother and sisters, his other family members, and all those who worked with him, Buddy was someone who made a difference.

My name is Glenn Fine, and I am the Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice. I am honored to be asked by the family to speak at this service as we remember Buddy, the contributions he made as a Special Agent in the Office of the Inspector General, and the impact he had on the lives of the people who were fortunate enough to work with him and know him.

Let me begin by offering my deepest sympathies on behalf of all 400 employees of the Office of the Inspector General to Buddy’s family on their loss. During the past three days, we have witnessed an outpouring of sympathy and support from all corners of the law enforcement and OIG communities – ranging from the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the FBI Director, the DEA Administrator, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, to Buddy’s colleagues in other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country, to even the public citizens who never knew Buddy but read about him in the newspaper and called our offices to ask how they could honor Buddy’s memory.

Also in Buddy’s honor, the Attorney General ordered that flags at all Justice Department buildings throughout the country be flown at half-staff.

We were lucky to have Buddy come to work at the OIG. He had an impressive background, graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in criminology and continuing on with the masters program in public policy at Georgetown University. After college, he pursued his life-long goal of becoming a federal law enforcement agent. Buddy’s mother told me earlier this week that Buddy had decided early in life that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer. In 1989, he began serving with the Secret Service, first in its Uniformed Division, then on the Vice Presidential detail, then as a Special Agent in the Secret Service’s Phoenix Field Office.

When some of our agents who knew him from the Secret Service heard that he was considering a move, they reached out and encouraged him to come to the OIG. And we were very fortunate to attract such a dedicated, committed, and experienced agent.

Buddy joined the OIG’s San Diego Field Office in July 2002, and a year later transferred to Coleman, Florida, as part of our Miami Field Office.

In the four years he worked with the OIG, Buddy became known throughout our organization as a skilled polygrapher, a tenacious special agent, and an experienced firearms instructor. He worked with many of our agents throughout the country and was willing to pursue even the toughest cases wherever they led. He approached each case with an open mind, without any agenda, other than to do what was right and to seek the truth. Buddy loved working as a law enforcement officer, and he was outstanding at his work.

He was also a loyal friend to many of the other agents he worked with in the Miami Field Office and throughout the country. They knew him as a mild-mannered person, with a soft spot for children, and someone who loved a good practical joke. He also gave back to the community in his free time, coaching local children in wrestling, a sport he loved and excelled in.

His friends remember these and other qualities that made Buddy such a superb agent and a valued friend.

Like other law enforcement agents, Buddy recognized that his job was dangerous and difficult. It is not an easy job to investigate any corrupt federal employees who abuse their trust and prey upon others. But Buddy and other OIG agents were not afraid and did not shy away from duty or danger. He, and they, worked tirelessly to make the Department of Justice, and the country, better and safer. Buddy was committed to his job and to protecting others.

That is how he lived, and that is how he died. Buddy was shot and killed Wednesday morning in the line of duty as he worked as part of an OIG/FBI team to execute arrest warrants on six federal correctional officers in Tallahassee, Florida. When a correctional officer who was being arrested opened fire, Buddy returned fire and acted with extraordinary courage.

I believe that Buddy’s brave actions under fire saved the lives of several other federal employees, while giving his own life.

Buddy Sentner lived like a hero and he died as a hero.

To Maria and the family – we join in your deep sorrow at this tragic loss. On behalf of the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Justice, and the law enforcement community, we will always remember and be grateful for Buddy’s dedication and the sacrifice he made in service to this country. He will be sorely missed.

I thank you for this opportunity to honor Buddy Sentner, and may God bless you all.

OIG Special Agent, Denver Field Office, Friend and Colleague

St. James Cathedral, Orlando, Florida

June 24, 2006

I last spoke with Buddy on Tuesday night. He was driving up to Tallahassee and we spoke like we did nearly daily just about work, life, anything…sometimes nothing. He rarely ended a telephone conversation with “goodbye,” but instead was more comfortable leaving the conversation open-ended saying… “I’ll call you back later.”

I last saw Buddy on June 8th in Washington, DC. We were attending a training class. He and I acted like our usual juvenile selves and passed goofy notes back and forth to each other. I didn’t realize until just last week when already home, that he had gotten a hold of my notebook and written a poem about me. It was just a silly poem that poked fun of me and just did what Buddy does so well—it made me smile and laugh.

I thought I’d return the gesture:

Ode to William S.

There once was a man named William (…or Bill…or Billy… or Buddy),
You should see the books that enlighten his mind;
He’s got Tolstoy and Nietzsche and The Great Gatsby and “A Good Man is Hard to Find!”

Buddy was an excellent athlete and wrestler,
Earning a championship was his wish,
He was also a healthnut eating hardboiled eggs, and broccoli, and broiled fish.

Martha Stewart would definitely be jealous,
If she ever saw his homemaking flair,
He could decorate, and arrange, and pick the right scheme, and still keep on top of his hair!

He was like an onion with many layers,
That he only let certain people peel,
But once he decided that you were his friend, he was loyal, and generous, and real.

As an investigator Buddy was tops,
His skillset would be hard to beat,
He was a polygraph examiner, a firearms instructor and thought quickly on his feet.

Buddy found his soulmate in Maria one day,
And asked her to become his wife,
He could NOT wipe the smile that was on his face, the day they committed for life.

He talked of a child they would have real soon,
And knew Maria would be a great mother,
He wanted a girl, and they’d name her Maria, and she would be like no other.


In closing, here’s a Bible passage fitting for the way Buddy left us:

(John, 15:13) “No one has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

…Buddy, “I’ll call you back later.”

Former Special Agent, U.S. Secret Service, Friend and Colleague

St. James Cathedral, Orlando, Florida

June 24, 2006

Buddy meant a lot to all of us. Of all the things he’d want us to remember him for, he’d like us to remember just how much of a fun guy he was to be around. If he were here to watch this, I know that every time I shed a tear, he would smile his big toothy grin, get a wild look in his eyes, and say something like, “c’mon Green, cry for me you big baby”…knowing he would have created our running joke for the day.

A day with Buddy was guaranteed to be a day with a few laughs in it. Even a day with drawn guns, yelling, chasing, handcuffs flying, tires screeching, or just lots of mundane and tedious paper work was a day that would be funny with Buddy around.

Even when he was in a great deal of physical pain, Buddy was fun. While in Phoenix, Buddy had a tough time with a kidney stone, and another agent in our office had a cancerous skin patch just below his eye that needed surgery. So out of his office that week, Buddy puts this big chart in the hallway. On this chart he allowed us all to track the progress of his kidney stone, and the movement of the other agent’s eye. These dark moments would become moments of long hard laughter, because of him.

We started out as agents in the office at the same time so we learned pretty much everything together like how to arrest, write search warrants, and do paperwork all the standard agent stuff. When my first daughter was born we learned a lot together as well. My wife was still in the hospital because of some complications and it was up to Buddy and me to take care of the baby. I remember having to change a diaper with him. It was the first he’d changed. It was my second, so I was the lead. You have to picture this…he’s holding my daughter up, the baby hasn’t been wiped yet, she is still going and crying her head off, I was fumbling trying to get the diaper deployed. Buddy turned around with a slightly fearful look and said “Green what do we do now?” It is a sight that still makes me laugh each time I remember it.

If there was anything I would wish for my friend, it is that he’d had a chance to be the father that he wanted to become. He would have made a truly awesome dad.

Maria had a chance to look at my statement before I read it for you today. She wanted me to add that she truly loved Buddy and after she saw just how much fun he had being around my kids, how much he loved to play with them and be that funny uncle that my kids loved to talk about long after his visit was over, she knew he was the man she wanted to have children with. Having children of their own was a dream they shared together.

We should remember Buddy as a husband, a son, as family, as a friend, a brother in arms, as a fallen hero. But, more importantly, we need to remember Buddy as a guy who made each day fun, and a day worth remembering.

Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice on the death of Special Agent William “Buddy” Sentner

June 21, 2006

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Special Agent William “Buddy” Sentner. Agent Sentner, 44, was shot and killed this morning in the line of duty as he was working as part of an OIG/Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team to execute arrest warrants on six Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Correctional Officers at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida. These six Correctional Officers were indicted yesterday on charges of conspiracy to sexually abuse female inmates and introduction of contraband into the BOP institution.

During the execution of the arrest warrant this morning, one of the Correctional Officers who was the subject of the warrant opened fire. During an exchange of gunfire, Agent Sentner was killed and a BOP Lieutenant was wounded. The BOP Correctional Officer who opened fire was also killed.

Agent Sentner joined the OIG’s San Diego Field Office in July 2002 and transferred to work for the OIG in Coleman, Florida, in August 2003. He began his federal law enforcement career with the U.S. Secret Service in October 1989 and served in the Secret Service Uniformed Division and its Phoenix Field Office before coming to the OIG. While with the OIG, Agent Sentner worked as both a polygrapher and a criminal investigator. Agent Sentner graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in criminology in 1987, and he received an M.A. in public policy from Georgetown University in 1994.

“Special Agent Sentner was a dedicated law enforcement agent and a valued colleague and friend,” said Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Justice. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. We will always remember and be grateful for the commitment to the Department of Justice and to our country made by dedicated law enforcement agents like Buddy Sentner.”

Agent Sentner is survived by his wife, parents, and two siblings. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized at this time.

Losing my husband has been the most horrible experience in my life. After reading all of the sympathy expressions, I am very proud of his memory. I am very sure that the way he lived, the way he died, his professionalism, his sense of humor, and his beautiful smile – will all be forever in the hearts of many people. I can feel that his dream is going to come true:  “I pray to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

I don’t have the words to express how thankful I am for each and every one of your thoughts and prayers. On one hand, the kind words, gestures, thoughts and prayers are painful to my broken heart. But, at the same time, they show me that I need to keep my chin up and live my life to its fullest.

To Buddy: I am so glad that I met you; I am so glad that you are my husband.

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