Slain agent's life goal was to serve

Published June 22, 2006

ORLANDO — William “Buddy” Sentner was no handyman. His buddies in the Secret Service joked that he didn’t even own a screwdriver.

But the former Secret Service agent became a family man the day he met his wife, Maria Aguilar. And soon, he became a “master at home improvement efforts” who studied and sweated the fine points of interior decorating to finish a room for the baby he and his wife were planning to have, his family said Thursday.

Sentner, 44, died Wednesday in a shootout at the Federal Correctional Institution 3 miles east of the state Capitol.

He and his colleagues were planning to arrest six guards accused of trading contraband and money for sex with female prisoners. Ralph Hill, the guard who opened fire, was killed, and another prison worker was seriously wounded.

Sentner leaves behind a grieving widow, a proud father and mourning colleagues.

“He was a great agent,” said Ron Green, 38, his former colleague in the Secret Service who now works in information security for a bank. “But his focus these days really was on his wife. They were going to have kids. They had just finished a room for where their child was going to be.”

Sentner’s father, who is also named William, said in a statement that he is proud of the way his son lived, and the way he served his country until his death: “He did his best to protect his fellow agents and gave his life for them.”
For much of his life, Buddy Sentner had one goal: To serve his country. It was a type of patriotism that stood out even among his fellow agents.

“For some people, it just runs in their blood,” Green said.

He was a varsity wrestler and double major in criminal justice and psychology at the University of Maryland. He went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown and became a uniformed Secret Service officer in 1990, when he was still in his late 20s.

In a statement, his family said Sentner spent most of his time working at the vice president’s residence. After four years, he became a special agent in the Phoenix field office.

Green said Sentner was a polygraph agent who had a knack for conducting tough interviews with suspects.
“We worked a lot of big cases together,” he said.

He also had a taste for shaved ice cones, and a habit of dragging his fellow agents along to his favorite stand, Green said, “even if his fellow agent did not want any shaved ice.”

After eight  years as a special agent, Sentner decided it was time to settle down and start a family, something that was tough to do on the schedules Secret Service agents keep. He got a job with the Department of Justice Inspector General’s Office in 2002, and decided to put down some roots in Orlando.

He and Maria Aguilar, now 34, married last March . They moved into a beige house with a neat lawn on a street called Scenic Vista Court. It’s a neighborhood of roomy houses near a lake. His father lived about half an hour away.

Now, the family is planning a funeral for Sentner at Orlando’s St. James Cathedral on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
“He will be missed,” his father said.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.