New Leads Emerge in Baby Aisenberg Case

The attorney who represented the parents of Sabrina Aisenberg, the 5-month-old-baby who vanished from her Florida bedroom in 1997, says that police are trying to frame him by implying he conspired to dispose of the child's body.

"[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office attorney Tony Peluso] is trying to say things about me and put me in the middle of this conspiracy to get rid of [Sabrina's] body," lawyer Barry Cohen told

In a news conference Monday, Cohen said that detectives had used jailhouse informants to try to unfairly link him to the Aisenberg case.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, which attended the conference, Cohen referred to sworn testimonies he says he took from police informant Dennis Byron and Scott Overbeck.

Cohen declined to provide with transcripts of the testimonies.

Cohen said that Byron told him that detectives placed him in a cell with Overbeck in hopes of finding out whether he or Cohen had played any part in the Aisenberg case, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

"Was there any discussion that they intended to bring me down or take me down, words to that effect?" Cohen asked, according to a transcript of the conversation obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

"That all of you are going to go down," Byron responded, according to the paper. "That you were going to go down, that the Aisenbergs were going to go down and that Overbeck is going down."

Byron said it was clear to him that Cohen was a "prime target," according to the report.

The sheriff's office denies Cohen has ever been a target of the investigation.

Declining to comment directly to, the office released a statement regarding Cohen.

"[We] feel compelled to deny the implication that our investigation has ever viewed Mr. Barry Cohen as a subject, target, suspect or person of interest," the statement reads.

Cohen's charges against the sheriff's office came after the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday obtained excerpts from the sworn testimonies of Byron and Overbeck.

According the paper, Byron claims in the statement that Overbeck said that he had been told by Johnny Tranquillo, one of Cohen's investigators and an acquaintance of Overbeck's father, that they needed help disposing of baby Aisenberg's body.

Unable to talk from behind bars due to unrelated charges, according to legal documents obtained by, Byron's lawyer, John Traveno, spoke on behalf of his client.

Traveno told that during a conversation his client recorded, Overbrook says he "got the word from his dad to go get the boat with the dead baby in it from the Aisenberg's driveway and did it." Travena said his client claimed Overbeck then said they "chopped the baby up and disposed of it in crab traps in Tampa Bay."

According to Traveno, his client Byron was wired by authorities and transferred into a cell with Overbeck because they believed Overbeck knew details about the baby's disappearance because of his ties to Cohen's investigator, Tranquillo.

The St. Petersburg Times also reported that authorities have been seen recently combing the Valrico neighborhood where the Aisenberg baby went missing more than a decade ago.

Travena told that last fall, after the sheriff listened to his client Byron's conversations, that undercover detectives bought the alleged Aisenberg boat from Overbeck and still have it, leaving open a possibility of DNA testing.

Overbeck's lawyer did not return repeated calls for comment by

Grudge Match

Travena, who said that he too believes Cohen is being unfairly targeted in the Aisenberg case, told that a complicated relationship between Cohen and Tony Peluso, the attorney for the sheriff's office, could be responsible.

"There no doubt about it that [Peluso and the investigators] have every intent of trying to nail Cohen," said Travena.

Peluso declined to be interviewed by

Peluso and Cohen went head-to-head following Aisenberg's disappearance, when Cohen defended the baby's parents on federal charges of lying to authorities about the case, in which the parents called 911 to report that their baby had been snatched from her crib.

The charges against the Aisenberg parents were dismissed after tapes recorded from bugged recorders in the family's home were ruled inaudible by a federal judge.

The Aisenberg's maintain they had nothing to do with their daughters disappearance, and told Cohen told the St. Petersburg Times that the family never owned a boat.

The couple remain suspects, according to authorities who told the Tampa Tribune in Nov. 2007 that "until we can clear them from the case, yes [the Aisenbergs are still suspects]."

That same judge also ruled the government to pay the Aisenberg's millions in legal fees, a judgment that Cohen believes has led Peluso to hold a grudge.

Even so, Travena remains skeptical of Overbeck's claims, conceding that prison informants aren't always reliable.

"We're talking about convicted felons," Travena told "I believe my clients accurately relayed this information but he kind of thought it was preposterous himself."

Cohen also told the St. Petersburg Times that both Overbeck and Byron contradicted themselves about whether Overbeck ever said Tranquillo sought help to dispose of the body. The paper also says that Byron admitted in his testimony to Cohen that he may have made some "assumptions" about what Overbeck was telling him.

In addition, the paper reported that Overbeck told Cohen that he had "mocked" Byron's suggestions that Cohen was somehow involved in the baby's disappearance.

The sheriff's office also admitted doubt in the trustworthiness of their informants.

"Lead information comes to HCSO from a variety of sources," the office said in a statement. "Obviously, some of our informants are more reliable and trustworthy than others.

"Nonetheless, regardless of the source, we are honor bound to lawfully investigate every viable lead, no matter whose feathers it might ultimately ruffle."