Santa Maria Jr. accused of witness tampering; Girlfriend also faces charges.

Author:Murray, Gary V.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER -- Patsy Santa Maria Jr. and his girlfriend, a former New England Patriots cheerleader, were charged Thursday with trying to bribe a witness in Mr. Santa Maria's assault trial last month.

Mr. Santa Maria, 42, and Ashleigh M. vanGerven, 28, both of 15 Old Orchard Circle, Boylston, were each arraigned Thursday afternoon in Central District Court on charges of witness intimidation, attempted subornation of perjury and two counts of conspiracy, in what police and prosecutors said was a plot to pay a scheduled witness in Mr. Santa Maria's Worcester Superior Court trial to alter his testimony.

Mr. Santa Maria's 70-year-old father, Patsy Santa Maria Sr., is awaiting trial on identical charges in the case.

Patsy Santa Maria Jr. was tried last month on charges of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, stemming from what prosecutors said was the unprovoked beating of another man Dec. 13, 2011, at Pat's Service Center on Shrewsbury Street. The business is owned by the elder Santa Maria.

The beating victim, James Sheedy, was an employee of Curtis Tractor Cab who had gone to Pat's to pick up a check for his boss, Marc Curtis. The check was for work Curtis had done on a tractor owned by Patsy Santa Maria Sr.

The intimidation, subornation and conspiracy charges involve an alleged attempt to get Mr. Curtis to testify at Patsy Santa Maria Jr.'s trial that he sent Mr. Sheedy to Pat's to forcibly collect his money. Prosecutors said Mr. Curtis went to authorities after being approached and offered up to $25,000 to "tweak'' his testimony.

Patsy Santa Maria Jr. ended up pleading guilty after his father was charged in mid-August and Mr. Curtis was never called to the stand.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel J. Bennett told Judge Michael G. Allard-Madaus Thursday that Patsy Santa Maria Jr. and Ms. vanGerven had their landscaper, 45-year-old Scott Johnson of North Brookfield, approach Mr. Curtis...

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