HAVERHILL — Leonard Mancuso, a lawyer accused of threatening his girlfriend with a handgun last week, will spend the next four weeks behind bars.
Judge Patricia Dowling ordered Mancuso, 56, of 602 Main St., held without bail at his dangerousness hearing in Haverhill District Court yesterday. Mancuso, who has a law office in Saugus, will return to court Nov. 3 for a pretrial hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Ashlee Logan said the Sept. 30 incident was not the first time Mancuso acted abusively toward his girlfriend, Sally Ouellette. The only way to assure her safety is to keep Mancuso in jail, Logan said.
"There has been domestic violence in this relationship," the prosecutor said. "This is not the first time she saw the handgun."
Logan said police went to Mancuso's home around 2 a.m. after receiving a 911 call. When they arrived, they heard a woman screaming for help, Logan said.
Patrolmen Jason Pearl and James Keenan then saw Ouellette trying to dive out a first-floor window with Mancuso grabbing her with his left hand and holding a handgun in his right hand, Logan said.
Pearl drew his gun and had to order Mancuso to drop his weapon several times before he obeyed, according to a police report filed with the court.
Noting that Mancuso also is accused of firing the handgun in the house, Logan said, "She (the victim) was near where he shot at."
"This could have ended quite differently," said Logan, who called the incident "potentially lethal."
Mancuso's attorney, Michael Cioffi of East Boston, said he could not mount an effective argument against the state's request for incarceration.
"We fully expected that," he said of the decision to lock up his client until he returns to court Nov. 3.
Cioffi said Mancuso will "probably" be indicted, meaning the case will move to Superior Court, where the penalties could be more severe if he is convicted.
After the hearing, Cioffi declined to comment any further on the case.
Mancuso, wearing a black T-shirt and handcuffed, was brought upstairs to the main courtroom shortly before 12:30 p.m. He has been held without bail since his arrest. He motioned to Cioffi and spoke briefly with him before the hearing began.
Mancuso is charged with assault and battery, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, possession of a firearm without a firearm identification card, and witness intimidation.
Police said Mancuso struggled with them while they were putting handcuffs on him during the arrest. When they checked Mancuso's apartment, they found a bullet hole in a wall, they said.
Ouellette told them she was trying to get away from Mancuso and he fired the gun as a "warning shot," police said.
Police said they seized a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun from Mancuso that had three rounds in the magazine. They said they also recovered a spent casing.
The victim told police that Mancuso told her to get out of the building, but then he wouldn't let her leave, the report said. He also threw a chair at her, shoved her against a wall, and removed a battery from her cell phone, police said.
She also told officers that Mancuso pulled out his gun, twirled it, and asked her "if she wanted to see what it's like," according to the police report.
This is not the first time Mancuso has been in trouble. The Board of Bar Overseers imposed a public reprimand against him in January 2008 because of his failure to provide an incarcerated client with a reliable telephone number.
In 2002, the Board of Bar Overseers issued an admonition to Mancuso for failing to communicate with a client, fulfill a contract of employment, refund the unearned portion of his legal fee, and cooperate with the bar counsel's investigation.
Officials at Lynn District Court said Mancuso used to often represent clients there, but hasn't made many appearances in the last few years.