The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office dismissed a domestic violence assault charge against a prominent concert promoter Monday after he satisfied the terms of a plea agreement reached one year ago.

Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray appeared in Cumberland County Superior Court and Justice Andrew Horton agreed to withdraw Gray’s guilty plea and dismissed the misdemeanor domestic violence assault charge against him.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck, who would have prosecuted the case had it gone to trial, said the charge was dismissed because Gray complied with all the terms of a 22-point deferred disposition agreement, which included not having contact with his ex-girlfriend, Erica Cole.

Sahrbeck said that Cole was aware the charge had been dismissed and did not object. If Gray had violated the agreement, the domestic violence charge could have been restored and he could have faced up to 364 days in jail.

“It’s a way to change someone’s behavior,” Sahrbeck said of the more than 700 deferred disposition cases pending in the Cumberland District Attorney’s Office.

At a change-of-plea hearing in October 2017 in Cumberland County Superior Court, Gray denied that he touched Cole, his former girlfriend of five years, in a “violent way” during an intense argument in March 2017.

Gray and his attorney, Gerard P. Conley Jr., accepted the 22-point agreement at that hearing, avoiding a trial. A message left at Conley’s Portland office was not returned Monday night and he could not be reached for comment.

According to Sahrbeck, the plea agreement contained a number of conditions that were monitored by the DA’s office for compliance, with the major condition being that he have no contact with Cole during the one-year period.

Gray also was prohibited from using illegal drugs, was subject to random searches and drug tests, and was required to return Cole’s property to her. He was also required within 96 hours to report any contact he may have had with law enforcement, Sahrbeck said.

The matter involving Gray and Cole spilled over into the public arena last year when Cole appeared before the Portland City Council and pleaded with councilors to not do business with Gray’s company.

At that hearing in April, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to contract with Live Nation for a summer concert series on the city-owned Maine State Pier. At the time, Gray’s company, Waterfront Concerts, had a partnership with Live Nation. For three consecutive summers, Waterfront Concerts had put on popular shows on the pier.

During the council debate, Mayor Ethan Strimling sought to have the concert contract revoked because Live Nation – a national promoter – did not condemn what happened to Cole and would not commit to severing ties with Gray.

Outgoing Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, who will be leaving office soon after the November elections, said Monday that during her 28 years as district attorney, she has promoted the county’s alternative sentencing or deferred disposition program.

Anderson said the program not only saves the county money, but time as well, by avoiding long and costly trials as well as the cost of incarcerating someone.

Currently, there are more than 700 deferred disposition cases – not just domestic violence cases – in Cumberland County’s system, Anderson said.

“It’s part of a gentler, softer approach to handling certain types of felony cases,” Anderson said. “What we are interested in achieving is the defendant making amends and changing their behavior.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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