FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward Sheriff's deputy who appears on a reality show was arrested in Cooper City Friday night on charges of battery, falsifying records and official misconduct.
During a December 1, 2010 traffic stop, Gerald Wengert, 33, a featured deputy on TLC's show "Unleashed Broward County," arrested Mark Visconti, then 17, the sheriff's office said.
Wengert arrested Visconti on charges of resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer. According to Wengert's arrest warrant, the deputy initially reported that Visconti was driving recklessly on Stirling Road. Once the teen was pulled over, Wengert said he got out of his car and resisted arrest, according to the warrant.
An internal affairs investigation indicated that Wengert, who was never dispatched to the scene, arrived while on the phone with his girlfriend, Jessica Mercer. A witness said Visconti and his passenger saw two of their friends on the street and decided to pick them up, stopping at a stop sign and delaying Mercer.
Visconti then drove to a nearby Wendy's restaurant, the warrant said, followed by Mercer. As Visconti and his friends left the Wendy's, Wengert was pulling into the plaza.
Wengert then pulled Visconti over about a half mile away, "yanked him out of the car, threw him against the car and began aggressively searching him," the report said. A witness said Wengert punched Visconti several times and put him in a headlock. Visconti suffered injuries to his face and legs and was taken to the hospital.
As a result of the investigation, Wengert was charged with battery, falsifying records and official misconduct. He was booked at the Broward County Jail and released on $2,000 bond. He has been suspended without pay, according to the BSO.
"When we get a complaint, or there is some sign of wrongdoing, we investigate and take action if policies were violated or laws were broken," Sheriff Al Lamberti said. "It bothers me that we have nearly 6,000 dedicated employees doing the right thing every day and people hear more about the mistakes and misdeeds of a few. But regardless of the effect, we are not going to sweep anything under the rug."