AUGUSTA — A former state legislator withdrew his guilty plea to a felony charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon Tuesday and instead admitted to a misdemeanor offense of criminal threatening in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Frederick L. Wintle, 60, of Garland, had completed a 12-month deferred disposition for pulling a handgun on a stranger on May 21, 2011, outside a Waterville Dunkin’ Donuts.

He was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but 45 days suspended, and one year’s probation.

“It’s been a long struggle for him,” defense attorney Leonard Sharon said. “He’ll continue to get counseling, and he’s well on his way to getting his life back together.”

Conditions of Wintle’s probation ban him from contact with the victim, Morning Sentinel photographer Michael Seamans.

Sharon previously said the incident was the result of mental illness and that Wintle was involuntarily committed for treatment shortly afterward.

A year ago in court, Wintle apologized.

“I would like to say I’m sorry for my behavior,” he said at the time. “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m sorry if I caused Mr. Seamans any discomfort.”

Police reports said Wintle pointed a gun at Seamans, whom Wintle didn’t know and had done nothing to provoke the attack.

Wintle said he was looking for a dead boy’s mother’s drug dealer, according to Seamans, who backed away and called police.

The incident followed other erratic behavior. In March 2011, capitol police were asked to intervene after Wintle complained repeatedly about the condition of the U.S. flag above the State House.

Wintle, then a Republican freshman legislator, resigned in September 2011.

Other conditions of Wintle’s probation require that he receive counseling, take his medications and not own dangerous weapons.

 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com