Ex-Maine lawmaker Wintle pleads guilty to pulling gun on stranger in Waterville parking lot

Posted March 08, 2012, at 5:53 p.m.
Last modified March 09, 2012, at 4:58 a.m.
Rep. Fred Wintle, R-Garland (right) is escorted back to Kennebec County jail in May, 2011, by House Republicans Chief of Staff Earl Bierman (left), following Wintle's Harnish hearing at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta. Wintle has resigned from his House seat less than four months after he was arrested for allegedly pointing a loaded handgun at a man in Waterville.
Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal | AP
Rep. Fred Wintle, R-Garland (right) is escorted back to Kennebec County jail in May, 2011, by House Republicans Chief of Staff Earl Bierman (left), following Wintle's Harnish hearing at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta. Wintle has resigned from his House seat less than four months after he was arrested for allegedly pointing a loaded handgun at a man in Waterville.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Frederick Wintle, the former legislator who pointed a loaded gun at a stranger in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot in Waterville last May, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to Class C criminal threatening and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

Wintle, of Garland, stood in Kennebec County Superior Court and apologized to Michael Seamans, the Morning Sentinel photographer he pointed his .22-caliber pistol at. He also apologized to his constituents and family.

“I said I was sorry for my actions. I meant that when I said that,” Wintle said outside of court after the hearing. “I regret what I did. I stand to make it as right as I’m able to. And I appreciate the support of my family. Through the support of my church, I look to better my life.”

Seamans was not at the hearing. Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley said he spoke with the photographer before the hearing and that Seamans felt the punishment was appropriate.

“He’s been very understanding and passionate,” Kelley said of Seamans. “[The sentence] adequately punishes Mr. Wintle and it gives him the help he needs.”

According to the terms of a plea agreement, Wintle will serve 45 days in jail beginning April 17. He also must have no contact with Seamans, not have possession or use of firearms or ammunition, continue psychiatric treatment, take prescribed medications, be subject to random searches for firearms, and not be in Waterville or Sidney except on Interstate 95.

After one year, if Wintle has met all of the conditions listed by the state, the charge will be dropped to Class D criminal threatening and he will be sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but 45 days suspended, which he will have already served. He will also be on probation for one year.

However, if he does not live up to the terms of the agreement, he will be sentenced to five years in jail, be fined $5,000, and be on probation for two years.

Justice Nancy Mills said she was pleased to see all sides work together and express compassion.

“The purpose of this sentence is for you to get help so this doesn’t happen again,” Mills told Wintle. “I congratulate everyone in this case.

“It’s a fair and just resolution,” she said.

Wintle was a Republican state representative for House District 24 at the time of the Waterville incident. District 24 includes the towns of Athens, Charleston, Dexter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley, and is currently being served by Rep. Raymond Wallace, R-Dexter.

On May 21, 2010, Seamans entered the Dunkin’ Donuts on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville, where he walked past Wintle, whom Seamans said he didn’t know. When Seamans walked past him, Wintle mumbled something “nonsensical,” said Seamans.

When Seamans walked out, Wintle again mumbled something, to which Seamans responded, “Excuse me.” Seamans said Wintle asked him about a baby who died a week earlier at a homeless shelter in Waterville and whether he knew the person who was dealing drugs.

“Quite honestly, it was all nonsensical,” Seamans said at the time.

When Seamans went to his truck, Wintle approached him and lifted his shirt to reveal a handgun in his waistband. Wintle then waved the gun in the air and leveled it at Seamans, about a foot away from him.

Wintle left and was later arrested at gunpoint at Central Maine Motors.

Bail conditions forbid him from returning to the State House without express permission from House Speaker Robert Nutting. Wintle resigned his position in September.

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