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Martinsburg attorney pleads no contest to two misdemeanor charges

April 16, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Martinsburg attorney accused of pointing a handgun at several people and threatening to shoot them at a boat dock party last year pleaded no contest Monday to two misdemeanor charges in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Michael S. Santa Barbara, 52, pleaded to counts of brandishing and carrying a concealed weapon without a license.

He was ordered to complete 50 hours of community service in lieu of a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended as part of a plea agreement reached between Berkeley County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Quasebarth and defense attorney David Camilletti.

Santa Barbara, of 45 Radnor Lane, also was fined and ordered to pay a total of $821.60 in court costs.

Four remaining misdemeanor counts of brandishing and one misdemeanor count of battery were dismissed.

Santa Barbara, dressed in a dark gray suit and light blue tie, said after the hearing that he feels badly about what happened.

“I shudder when I think about what could have been the consequences of what I did,” Santa Barbara said of the August 2011 incident. “I kind of took it up too high.”

The partygoers told police that Santa Barbara “racked” his weapon and ejected a round to show everyone that the gun was loaded, and “asked who wants to be the first” in a confrontation with them, according to court records. Five individuals at the party told police that Santa Barbara pointed a weapon at them and threatened to shoot if they “tried anything stupid,” the documents said.

The ejected round was later found in front of the pavilion, and police also found a Bersa .380-caliber handgun in Santa Barbara’s vehicle.

In court on Monday, Santa Barbara admitted to carrying a concealed weapon without a license, according to Quasebarth, who filed the new misdemeanor charge against the defendant as part of the plea agreement.

Aside from brandishing the weapon, Santa Barbara also was accused of hitting a female in the head with a flashlight, but the woman told police she thought she was hit with his gun, court documents said.

Upset by the noise and traffic caused by the party near his Whitings Neck-area home, Santa Barbara told police he went to the boat dock “to run everyone off,” according to court records.

Santa Barbara told police that he saw 30 to 40 people when he arrived and was surrounded by a group of them when he got out of his vehicle, according to court documents.

Santa Barbara told police that he was afraid he was going to get “jumped,” so he ordered everyone into a pavilion at the dock. He then shoved a female who approached, screaming and cursing at him, according to court documents. 

One of the alleged victims told police he was leaving the party when he was blocked in by Santa Barbara’s Cadillac Escalade, and that the defendant pointed a gun in his face and told him he wasn’t leaving, according to court documents.

When questioned about the altercation, police said Santa Barbara indicated that he “stepped in a little too deep and screwed up,” according to court documents.

Records indicate police responded to investigate the incident at 12:22 a.m. Aug. 15 off Piedmont Way near the Potomac River.

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