A judge has ordered Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman and his 26-year-old son to turn over their guns to authorities and stay away from the mayor’s estranged wife after she accused him of years of physical abuse.
A judge has ordered Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman and his 26-year-old son to turn over their guns to authorities and stay away from the mayor's estranged wife after she accused him of years of physical abuse.
Michelle Berman, 45, filed paperwork in Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday saying the mayor repeatedly injured her during their six-year relationship and that his son, Steve Berman Jr., threatened her.
The judge granted her requests for protection, forbidding the mayor and his son from calling her, going to her house or having any other contact with her.
The two protective orders from County Commissioner Wesley Peterson also told Berman and his son, who keep a shooting range in their basement, to turn over all of their guns within 24 hours.
Melvin McDonald, the mayor's attorney, said they received the order Wednesday and the Bermans planned to give the weapons to Gilbert police sometime Thursday.
In an e-mail late in the day, Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Mark Marino said the weapons had, in fact, been turned over.
"The Mayor has complied with the court order," he wrote.
Neither the mayor nor his son could be reached for comment. McDonald said they plan to ask the judge next week to hold a hearing on the order.
The judge's orders come amid a criminal investigation by the sheriff's office into Michelle Berman's accusations of having endured years of physical and emotional abuse while living with the mayor.
The investigation began two weeks ago when she told investigators the mayor had punched her and threatened to kill her father.
She also told sheriff's detectives the mayor told her he once planned to kill fellow Town Council member Linda Abbott, records show.
The accusations were repeated in Michelle Berman's request for protection.
After the initial accusations, Steve Berman, who turned 60 last week, told authorities that his wife struggled for years with prescription drug abuse and that her claims were not credible.
He also denied having hurt his wife or planning to kill Abbott.
On Thursday, the mayor's lawyer said they are gathering "accounts" of Michelle Berman's drug use from people who know her and have already turned some of them over to the county attorney's office.
"One of the serious questions is: Is she speaking from actual true facts or is this a product of years and years of overmedicating?" McDonald said.
In an interview last week with the Tribune, Michelle Berman admitted to having abused drugs several years ago, but she said she has been clean for three years.
She declined to comment about the new developments on Thursday.
"I'm instructed not to speak to reporters at this time," she said.
The domestic violence investigation by the sheriff's office was turned over last week to the county attorney's office, which will decide whether to press charges in the case.