AUGUSTA — A former state legislator will spend 45 days in jail for pulling a gun on a stranger last May in a parking lot in Waterville.

Frederick L. Wintle, 59, pleaded guilty Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court to a felony charge of criminal threatening.

An arrangement calls for a 12-month postponement of the sentencing in the case. Meantime, Wintle will serve 45 days in jail and then spend the remainder of a year on deferred disposition. He is to report to jail to begin serving the sentence April 17.

Conditions of the arrangement included a written apology to the victim, Michael Seamans, of Sidney, and attorneys said Wintle had already composed that letter.

Wintle’s attorney, Leonard Sharon, said the incident was a result of mental illness in an acute or active phase, and that Wintle was involuntarily committed for treatment shortly afterward. Wintle, a Republican member of the House representing the Garland area at the time, resigned on Sept. 13.

In court Thursday, Wintle said he would try to make it up to Seamans and he apologized to the community that had elected him to the Legislature.

“I would like to say I’m sorry for my behavior,” Wintle told the judge. “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m sorry if I caused Mr. Seamans any discomfort.”

Seamans, who is a photographer for the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, chose not to attend the hearing but said later he felt the resolution was appropriate. Seamans said his main concern was making sure that Wintle got the help he needed and that the process “didn’t put him in a place where he would be worse off afterward.”

“I wanted to ensure he was in treatment,” Seamans said.

Justice Nancy Mills approved the sentence recommended jointly by Sharon and Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley.

If Wintle avoids criminal problems and meets a series of conditions during the 12-month period, he can withdraw the felony plea and instead plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge of criminal threatening.

The sentence then is to be 364 days, all of which would be suspended except the 45 days he had already served. He would also be placed on probation for one year.

If he is unsuccessful, Wintle faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The judge commended the two attorneys, as well as Seamans and Wintle, for arriving at a resolution that had compassion and understanding.

“This is a fair and just resolution to a very unfortunate situation,” Mills told Wintle. “The purpose is to see you continue to get help so this kind of behavior doesn’t happen again.”

In October, Wintle was indicted on two felony charges — criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and reckless conduct — and on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon. The two latter charges were dismissed in exchange for the plea on Thursday.

Wintle pointed a .22-caliber handgun at Seamans on May 21 in the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville.

Waterville police said Wintle didn’t know Seamans and that Seamans had done nothing to provoke the attack as he stopped for coffee on his way to work.

Wintle said he was looking for the drug dealer of a dead boy’s mother in Waterville, according to Seamans. Wintle then pulled the handgun out of his waistband and pointed it at Seamans, who backed away and called police.

The incident was a culmination of recent erratic behavior that had been noticed by fellow legislators. In March 2011, for instance, Capitol Police were asked to intervene after Wintle complained repeatedly about the condition of the U.S. flag that flies above the State House.

Wintle, who spent some time in jail already, has been free on bail. Conditions of that bail prohibit him from being at the State House without the written permission of House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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