Bundgaard pleads no contest to endangerment

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by Ryan O'Donnell

Bio | Email | Follow: @3TVODonnell

Paul Davenport, Associated Press Writer

Posted on August 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 17 at 6:07 PM

PHOENIX  -- State Sen. Scott Bundgaard has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor endangerment charge under a plea agreement in a case stemming from a February altercation with the lawmaker's former girlfriend.

The Peoria Republican entered the plea Tuesday morning, a day after attorneys said negotiations were under way.

A judge accepted the terms of the plea agreement. It provides for dismissal of a misdemeanor assault charge and for Bundgaard to enter a domestic violence diversion program.

If he doesn't, the judge will impose a sentence of five days in jail and 36 months of probation.

A no contest plea does not require an admission of guilt, and Bundgaard has denied he assaulted Aubry Ballard. Ballard spoke to 3TV about the plea deal.

“I’m a little disappointed with the outcome,” commented Ballard “I was ready for a trial we had enough witnesses, we had half a dozen witnesses and so I felt pretty confident that it would’ve been a guilty verdict.”

Last February Ballard and Bundgaard got into a late-night scuffle along a Phoenix freeway. Bundgaard has maintained he was the victim during the fight and said Ballard hit him during a jealous rage. This, while Ballard said the senator threw her to the ground after pulling her out of the car.

When police arrived, Senator Bundgaard invoked legislative immunity and was released while Ballard was cuffed and spent a night in jail.

Tuesday morning’s plea deal now erases Bundgaard’s assault charge.

“This could’ve been a homicide case, so I feel lucky and I hope he won’t do this again to somebody else,” said Ballard.

Senator Bundgaard’s attorney told 3TV his client has decided not to talk about the plea deal.

Bundgaard may not be out of the water yet. Last march an ethics complaint was filed in the legislature because of Bundgaard’s actions. That complaint was dismissed, until a trial played out or there was a plea deal. Now that a plea deal has played out, another complaint could be filed.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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