Attorney enters plea on law firm arson
Lawrence Smith Mar. 8, 2012, 2:37am
MARTINSBURG – An eastern Panhandle attorney accused of deliberating setting a fire at the law firm where she previously worked five years ago has entered into a tentative plea agreement in charges against her.
According to the Hagerstown, Md. Herald-Mail, Ashley R. Shreve has agreed to plead no contest to charges of second-degree arson, and conveying a bomb threat. In exchange for the plea, the Berkeley County Prosecutor's Office has agreed to dismiss another charge of conveying a bomb threat, and attempted arson that were returned against Shreve in October 2010 by the grand jury.
The indictment stemmed from Shreve setting fire to a box of files at the Martinsburg branch of McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner in September 2007. Shreve worked for the firm for seven more months before leaving to work in Richmond, Va., following her attempt to set a second fire at the firm.
Between then, the indictment alleges she sent bomb threats to nearby businesses, including Westfield Insurance, and wrote anonymous letters to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department taunting them for not making an arrest in the first arson. After DNA obtained from the envelope sent to Westfield matched Shreve's, the Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant for her arrest.
In May 2010, Shreve was arrested by the Henrico County Sheriff's Office without incident, and later waived extradition. The following July, Berkeley Magistrate Sandra L. Miller found enough probable cause to bound Shreve's case to the grand jury.
As part of the agreement, Shreve, 30, will have to undergo a psychological evaluation, participate in mental health counseling and make restitution to the McNeer law firm. The damage caused by the fire was estimated between $5,000 to $10,000.
In lieu of incarceration, the prosecutor's office is recommending Shreve be placed on five years probation. The agreement awaits Judge Christopher C. Wilke's approval who has scheduled a hearing on it for April 30.
Another stipulation of the agreement is that Shreve is to report her conviction to the state Bar. According to its website, Shreve, who was first admitted to the Bar on Oct. 5, 2006, has an active license, and works out of her home in Oakland, Md.