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Attorney to plead no contest in charges related to Martinsburg fire

According to agreement, Ashley R. Shreve would be placed on probation for five years

March 06, 2012

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Garrett County, Md., attorney accused of setting a fire at the Martinsburg law firm where she once worked and threatening to bomb a nearby insurance business has agreed to enter no-contest pleas to felony charges in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Ashley R. Shreve, 30, of Oakland, Md., would be convicted of second-degree arson and conveying a false bomb threat if 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes accepts a plea agreement reached between Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely’s office and J. Michael Cassell, the defendant’s attorney.

The judge is expected to announce his decision April 30 at a plea and sentencing hearing, according to court records.

According to the proposed plea agreement, Shreve would be placed on probation for five years in place of prison sentences of one to 10 years and one to three years that would be served concurrently.

Shreve would have to pay restitution and obtain a psychological evaluation at her own expense to address the reasons for her actions. She also would have to participate in mental health counseling, under  the plea agreement

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In exchange for her pleas, single counts of attempted arson and conveying a false bomb threat would be dismissed, under the agreement.

The fire that was set in September 2007 at McNeer, Highland, McMunn & Varner L.C. law office at 275 Aikens Center in Martinsburg caused between $5,000 and $10,000 in damages, police have said.

Shreve, who was arrested in May in the Richmond, Va., area, was a resident of Spring Mills in Berkeley County when she worked at the law firm, police have said.

Admitted to the West Virginia State Bar in October 2006, Shreve still was listed on Tuesday as an active member on the association’s web-based directory.

Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory K. Jones said Tuesday that Shreve would be required to report her felony convictions to the state bar, which he added does not distinguish between guilty and no-contest pleas.

Police have said that a bomb threat letter sent to Westfield Insurance, which was formerly next door to the law firm, ultimately led police to Shreve.

In the bomb threat mailed to Westfield, the note quoted in court records said: “Bombs are around in the ceilings and on the ground!!! You didn’t get the message when I set your neighbor on fire. So now I must threaten you.”

A DNA sample obtained from the envelope used to send the bomb threat letter to Westfield matched a sample of Shreve’s DNA, police have said.

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