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Maine lawmaker resigns after gun threat incident

By Glenn Adams
Associated Press / September 14, 2011

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AUGUSTA, Maine - A lawmaker barred from the State House after being charged with pulling a loaded gun on a stranger in a parking lot has resigned, his attorney said yesterday.

Representative Frederick Wintle’s attorney, Leonard Sharon, disclosed the resignation after a brief hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court. House Speaker Robert Nutting, Republican of Oakland, said later he had accepted the resignation.

Nutting released a statement saying he was “pleased that he made this decision that will allow him to concentrate on his health and his family.’’ He said details of a special election for District 24 will be announced soon.

Wintle, a Republican from Garland, is free on bail and is barred from possessing dangerous weapons while he continues mental health treatment. He is accused of pulling a gun on a photographer for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel newspaper in a doughnut shop parking lot. The photographer, Michael Seamans, wasn’t carrying his camera and said he had never seen Wintle before.

Wintle was charged with criminal threatening and carrying a concealed weapon.

Yesterday’s hearing focused on a deal under which Wintle would plead guilty to a felony, with the charge later being reduced to a misdemeanor if he meets certain conditions. There was no resolution of that process because objections were raised.

Seamans’ former employer, a Baton Rouge, La., newspaper, objected to the arrangement and insisted that Wintle not be “coddled,’’ according to Sharon. The newspaper also insisted that Wintle serve another 45 days in jail, on top of the 45 he has already served, Sharon said, adding that Seamans agreed with the newspaper’s position.

Sharon said further incarceration would be harmful to Wintle’s recovery and that he opposes having the offense remain a felony. Sharon also said he hopes to seek a resolution before the next hearing.