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Man Jailed to Stop Him From Driving

June 12, 2004|From Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An Alzheimer's-stricken man who repeatedly violated a judge's instructions to stop driving was jailed for eight days before he was ordered transferred Friday to a secure nursing home.

Albert Brenner, 75, thinks he has a job as a traveling salesman peddling 1970s-era rotary telephones, his lawyer said.

Brenner was arrested and jailed after he was caught driving. He has previously been ordered to give up his license and car keys, and the man's family and lawyers have tried to keep him from getting behind the wheel.

On Wednesday, Judge Geoffrey D. Cohen ordered Brenner sent to a state mental hospital for criminals until his mental health could be restored and he could stand trial on battery charges involving a scuffle with his companion. Cohen said the elderly man posed a danger to the public and himself by insisting on driving.

Brenner remained in the Broward County Jail while waiting for space to open up at the mental hospital.

But on Friday, Judge Michael Kaplan overruled the other judge and said Brenner should be placed in a secure state nursing home. Kaplan set another hearing for Tuesday to decide whether the elderly man was competent to stand trial on the battery charges.

Kaplan also ordered that a guardian be appointed, emphasizing that Brenner needed supervision.

"I will not let him out and have him get in a car and kill somebody," Kaplan said.

Brenner was moved out of the jail late Friday to a state-licensed assisted-living facility, said Leslie Mann, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children & Families.

Brenner's lawyer and a psychologist testified that his ability to reason could never be improved and that he did not belong in jail.

"It's not Albert Brenner's fault that he has Alzheimer's," his lawyer, Betsy Benson, said Wednesday. "We have a person who is not going to become competent, who ... cannot follow the rules and regulations."

Brenner thinks he has to get back to work and said so in court Friday, said his public defender Howard Finkelstein. Friends, lawyers and family members have been unable to convince him he no longer works.

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