State Senator Scott Bundgaard pleaded no contest this morning to a misdemeanor endangerment charge stemming from a February scuffle on the side of a Valley freeway with his now ex-girlfriend Aubry Ballard
Initially, Bundgaard was charged with one count each of reckless assault and endangerment for the freeway fracas that resulted in a night in the slammer for Ballard and a shiner for Bundgaard.
Bundgaard faced up to 10 months in jail and $3,250 in fines if convicted of the aforementioned charges. However, thanks to the plea deal, the charges were dismissed, and Bundgaard will avoid any jail time if he completes a diversion program within the next 12 months. If he fails to complete the program, he faces five days in jail and 36 months of probation.
Bundgaard did not immediately respond to New Times' request for comment, but Ballard issued a statement saying, "I'm glad to have this difficult chapter of my life behind me after 5 months. It's been painful and very frustrating.''
With each side telling a different story, the details of the February 15, brouhaha still are unclear. Bundgaard claims Ballard attacked him in a jealous rage as the two drove home from a charity event, during which Bundgaard competed in a dance competition with another woman.
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He claims she started punching him and throwing his clothes out the window as the two were driving on State Route 51. When he stopped to retrieve the clothes, he tried to remove Ballard from the car, dragging her along the side of the highway, causing cuts and scrapes to her legs.
Bundgaard also claims Ballard pulled a gun on him, a claim Ballard says -- and most observers believe -- is BS.
The yarn about the gun, Senate sources told New Times at the time, was the breaking point for many Senate Republicans, who booted Bundgaard from his position as Senate majority leader shortly after the incident.
Bundgaard was not charged the night of the fight because, according to Phoenix police, he invoked legislative immunity -- a claim he disputes. Ballard, on the other hand, was taken into custody at the scene and spent a night in jail.