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Man Who Hit First-Aider Can Clear His Record

NEWARK, N.J. -- A Frenchtown man who pleaded guilty to a third-degree aggravated assault charge for punching a first-aid responder after she claimed she patted him on the cheek to revive him from an unresponsive state has a chance to have the charge dropped from his record.

Warren F. Wiseburn must successfully complete two years of a pretrial intervention program he was entered into on Thursday to clear his name, according to his defense attorney.

Public Defender Peter Abatemarco said Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Seana Pappas did not oppose Wiseburn's entry into the program, which requires he seek mental health counseling, and that he avoid the first-aider he punched.

"It's a good result. This resolves everything," Abatemarco said about the bitter dispute that resulted from Wiseburn's violent reaction to Patty Atheras.

Wiseburn, a 59-year-old supermarket worker who lives in a halfway house, had argued the first-aider had smacked him to explain why he punched her during an emergency call on April 21, 2007.

Atheras, a fire department volunteer, claimed the blow damaged hearing in her right ear, fractured her right cheekbone, affected the vision in her right eye and left her suffering from constant headaches.

Authorities said the offense amounted to a simple assault, but the charge for striking a first-aid provider comes with a higher degree of severity. Wiseburn had been facing up to five years in state prison and a $25,000 fine.

There was also a backlash for Atheras, who was slapped with a simple assault complaint that was filed against her by Wiseburn, and her state certification as an emergency medical technician was scrutinized.

Atheras, who claimed her reputation was tarnished, did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. She had previously complained that she had several run-ins with Wiseburn, and that he had a history of faking illnesses.

Abatemarco, however, insisted Wiseburn did suffer from a condition that left him unresponsive the night of the emergency call, and that he never meant to hurt Atheras when she allegedly patted him on the cheek to bring him back.

"His position was that it wasn't intentional," Abatemarco said.

Ralph R. Ortega may be reached atrortega@starledger.comor (973) 951-3816.

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