Eddie Santana, the litigious restaurant rebelNew Times profiled
earlier this month, has been convicted of misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct. Judge Andrea Wolfson sentenced Santana to 120 days in Miami-Dade County jail and a year of probation on Friday.
Santana has sued at least 30 businesses in Miami-Dade in the past nine years, most of them restaurants where he was briefly employed.
He was arrested last November after an altercation with Barrio Latino restaurant owner Edwin Scheer. Santana showed up looking for a check, but the argument quickly spun out of control.
According to Scheer, Santana became violent when told there was no money for him. The waiter then broke a chair on the sidewalk and tried to provoke a fight, Scheer says, before grabbing something from his car and sprinting back towards Barrio Latino.
"Everyone thought it was a gun," Scheer told New Times. "I thought I was going to get shot."
As Scheer tried to run back into the restaurant, a loud bang rang out across South Miami's Sunset Drive. Customers and waiters hit the floor, fearing a shootout. But Santana hadn't fired a gun; he had hurled a water bottle, narrowly missing several Sunday afternoon diners.
Santana screeched off in his car, but cops pulled him over a few blocks away. He was arrested and initially charged with a felony -- "assault with a deadly missile" -- over the incident. That charge was downgraded, however.
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Ever confident in court, the self-taught legal expert requested a speedy trial so that his own lawsuit against Scheer could go ahead.
But after a long string of legal victories, Santana's luck finally seems to have run out. He says he was fired from both of his waiting jobs this winter. And he's faced with another unpleasant reality: with jail-time looming, he's likely to lose his civil case against Scheer.
The loss would be Santana's first.