Pa. councilman, Hagerstown man plead not guilty in assault case

October 31, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Council member and a Hagerstown man accused in a bar fight that left a man with brain damage pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Craig Newcomer, 46, who served as borough council president before his arrest in May, was indicted last month on one count of malicious assault and one count of conspiracy, according to his indictment, which was released by Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely’s office.

Co-defendant Benjamin Jason Bean, aka “4th Grade,” who provided the court with a Sharpsburg, Md., address Monday, was indicted on one count of conspiracy, according to his indictment.

Presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Christopher C. Wilkes scheduled the defendants’ trial for March 20 in an arraignment hearing held Monday.  

Newcomer, who was identified by the name “Guido” in the Avenger Motorcycle Club, is accused of fighting with 45-year-old Ernest E. Cumbie at the Dirty Dawg Saloon in Martinsburg on Feb. 13, according to court documents.

After the fight, Cumbie was flown for treatment of scalp hematoma, multiple facial and skull fractures, frontal lobe contusions and traumatic brain injury, police said in court documents.

Newcomer, who has said the allegations against him are false, was represented in court Monday by attorney Dan James. An attorney with the public defender’s office is expected to represent Bean. Both men are free on bond.

James initially told Wilkes that he wanted to have his client’s trial scheduled within the current term of court, which ends in February, but then backed away from exercising the “speedy trial” right.

Newcomer, who has said he has served as a Christian witness to the Avenger Motorcycle Club for the past several years, did not comment in the hearing. Neither did Bean.

In a previous interview, Newcomer said: “They’re trying to make this a motorcycle club thing, and it’s not. ... I know God was there and saw what happened.”  

Police responded to investigate the alleged fight at the South Queen Street club at 2:25 a.m., according to court records.

Newcomer, a Third Ward councilman, was first elected in 2005.

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