Attorney: Vitter Aide Paid His Own ‘Minimal’ Fees In Assault Case

One of the curiosities of the case of the now-former aide to Sen. David Vitter who held his girlfriend hostage during an assault in 2008, is that Brent Furer, on a $47,000-per-year salary, hired one of the top lawyers at one of Washington’s fanciest law firms to represent him.

The lawyer, Thomas Kelly of Venable LLP, told TPMmuckraker this morning that the fees in the case were “minimal” — and that Furer paid.“It was a very small case, it was a nothing case,” Kelly said. “It was an incident, we went down to court, we entered a plea. The judge gave him a stern warning — ‘Behave yourself, otherwise I’ll put you in jail.’ And [Furer] cleaned himself up and is doing well.”

The case turned out well for Furer, given the circumstances: police reports say he cut his girlfriend in the hand with what is described as “a utility knife which is attached to a cork screw and a can opener.” She also received eight stitches on her chin. Assault and weapons charges were dropped and he pleaded guilty in April 2008 to misdemeanor threatening bodily harm and destruction of property charges.

But Kelly, who is described on his Venable bio as “a seasoned white collar criminal defense and trial lawyer,” is hardly the kind of attorney one finds through the Yellow Pages. A former assistant United States attorney in Washington, is regularly honored in legal publications, has represented Fortune 500 companies, and defended “individuals in high profile criminal cases,” according to his bio. His practice areas include congressional investigations and government contracts.

Kelly declined to comment on how he came to represent Furer, but he said he does not know Vitter or anyone else in the senator’s office. He also said he spent the first decade of his career doing work as a prosecutor and defense attorney in the D.C. Superior Court, where Furer’s case was handled.