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Michael Bontaites, left, shown after his arrest in Manchester on Monday, and at right, in 2012 after his arrest in Derry. 

Alleged mugger shot by grandmother was jailed for 2012 threat


MANCHESTER — The alleged mugger shot on Monday by a Manchester grandmother once threatened a woman with a knife after an automobile accident, according to records.

Michael Bontaites, 23, who is now in Valley Street Jail with a bullet wound in his chest, pleaded guilty to felony criminal threatening after a June 2012 traffic accident on Route 28 bypass in Derry, according to a Rockingham County prosecutor. Derry police say he got out of the car with a knife in hand, had words with the driver and passenger and then drove off.
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Bontaites was facing felony charges that could have landed him in prison for 3 1/2 to seven years. But as part of a plea bargain, he agreed to six months of incarceration at Rockingham County jail. The sentence also called for an anger management evaluation and a year of probation.
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“I can’t comment because I didn’t prosecute that case,” said Sarah Warecki, a prosecutor who works for the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office and is handling the follow-up. The attorney who prosecuted the case in 2013, Lisa Cirulli, no longer works at the office, she said.
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Currently, Bontaites faces a robbery charge after he allegedly grabbed for the purse of a 65-year-old woman as she tried to get to her South Porter Street apartment building on Monday night. The woman drew a .32-caliber handgun and shot Bontaites in the chest.
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She received supportive calls from Mayor Ted Gatsas and Police Chief Nick Willard and attention from local and regional media.

“I thought my safety was in danger,” said the woman, who spoke to reporters but asked that her name and image not be publicized.
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Bontaites was hospitalized overnight Monday. By Wednesday, he had been transferred to the Valley Street Jail, where he is held on a $5,000 cash or surety bail.

Three years ago, Bontaites was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor. He received a two-year suspended sentence. Defendants don’t have to serve time for suspended sentences, but judges can impose the sentence if a defendant gets into trouble while it is in effect.
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Bontaites’ suspended sentence had expired before Monday.

Last October, Bontaites’ probation officer took him to court for not paying $682 in fees associated with the criminal threatening. A judge released him on personal recognizance bail.
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But Bontaites did not show up for a November court hearing, so a warrant was issued for his arrest, Warecki said.

mhayward@unionleader.com
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