AUGUSTA — A Vermont woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon in connection with a road rage incident nearly five months ago on Interstate 95 in Sidney.

Demitria Buhalis, who was a police officer at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Vermont when she was arrested in April after the incident in Maine, entered the plea as part of a deal that could result in a lighter sentence. Buhalis, 42, of Brownsville, Vermont, was accused of pulling a loaded gun on two men in another vehicle on April 22 as the two vehicles were traveling south on I-95 near mile 117.

If Buhalis successfully meets the terms of a 12-month deferred disposition agreement, which she signed Tuesday during a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, she can withdraw the plea to the felony charge and instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct. Among the conditions is a ban on contact with the two men identified as victims.

A hearing on the deferred disposition is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2016, when her attorney and the state prosecutor will argue over the penalty, which can be a fine of $575 or up to a 10-day jail sentence to be served in the alternative sentencing program.

If she fails to meet the terms of the deferred disposition, she could be sentenced to up to five years in jail, although it’s unlikely she would receive the maximum term.

“This was a compromise to be sure,” said her attorney, Walter McKee. “In the end the felony case will be dismissed, and that was the top priority.”

McKee said Buhalis entered an Alford guilty plea, describing it as “a guilty plea that specifically does not admit the offense, only that if the case went to trial the defendant could — not would — be convicted.”

He also said Buhalis no longer is working as a VA police officer in Vermont. “Demitria lost her job over this, but she is a can-do kind of person and is moving forward,” he said.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, whose office prosecuted the case, said Tuesday the case “had nothing to do with her profession. It was the conduct that occurred on the road.”

“It is important that anyone who engaged in this conduct would be charged,” Maloney said.

Maloney said she was pleased that Buhalis accepted responsibility for the incident, adding, “I certainly hope that she will abide by the terms of the agreement.”

At the time of the incident, Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers said the threat was a culmination of a protracted road rage incident, which included passing and tailgating, that began in the Fairfield area about 15 miles to the north.

The incident was reported by one of the men in the other vehicle, and they followed Buhalis’ black Honda Accord at a distance until Rogers spotted the car in the southbound lane near mile 105. Rogers continued to follow the car without his lights activated until other officers arrived to assist with the traffic stop. That stop took place near the Interstate 295 toll plaza in West Gardiner.

On April 24, Buhalis responded via Facebook to a series of questions from a reporter and said she was innocent of the charge. Buhalis wrote that the two men in the other car threatened her and then accused her of pointing a gun at them because she is a police officer, something she said they could conclude from a police decal on her vehicle.

However, McKee said none of that came up at Tuesday’s hearing.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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