A well known Fairhope businessman was found guilty of public intoxication and third-degree assault earlier this month after an incident at a bar late last year. Ronan McSharry, owner of McSharry’s Irish Pub, was sentenced to 180 days in jail, but credited for two months already served in a rehabilitation facility, according to municipal court documents filed April 17.
Curiously, criminal defense attorney John Beck sought to dismiss the case based on alleged interference by Mayor Karin Wilson. Beck did not respond to requests for comment for this story, but the city and others close to the case said they expect an appeal.
In a criminal complaint filed Nov. 23 of last year, McSharry was accused of shoving a woman off her barstool at the Little Whiskey Christmas Club, causing the victim to fall and hit her head. The police report noted McSharry was taken into custody after it was determined he was “a danger to himself and/or the public.”
At the time, McSharry was on probation after pleading guilty to breach of peace in August 2018. In that incident, he threatened the artist Nall Hollis during a “violent, offensive or boisterous” verbal altercation in front of Hollis’ customers in 2017. Hollis’ art foundation is across the street from McSharry’s pub.
McSharry’s guilty plea required him to avoid Hollis, not consume distilled spirits and “not become inebriated.”
In the most recent case, McSharry was allegedly sitting next to Paula DiNardi and making small talk when he suddenly took offense to a comment and shoved the woman off her bar stool. Lagniappe made a records request for the entire case file and is reporting based on the materials that were provided.
In a motion to dismiss, Beck argued McSharry’s prosecution was “politically motivated.” He produced text messages between Mayor Wilson and DiNardi, exchanged approximately a week after the incident, in which Wilson referred to McSharry as a “tyrant” who “tarnishes Fairhope.”
Wilson further texted that “if people don’t stand up, he will likely kill someone. I don’t discuss this in public, but the [police department] knows how concerned I am.”
Beck also produced a deposition from the Hollis case where Hollis admitted Wilson “encouraged” him to press charges against McSharry.
In texts with DiNardi, Wilson suggested she contact “a friend” who “helps women and kids in our county’s corrupt legal system.” That friend was Fairhope resident Paul Ripp, publisher of The Ripp Report, who wrote a blog post Nov. 30 identifying DiNardi as a bartender at the American Legion and making several allegations about McSharry’s past behavior, including domestic violence.
Indeed, county court records indicate McSharry’s ex-wife sought a restraining order after he beat her during a “drunken state” in late 2014. When she reported it to the police, McSharry beat her again, the motion claims. The restraining order sought to prevent McSharry from “yelling, screaming, hitting, striking, spitting or coming around” his ex-wife “in any violent manner” pending disposition of their divorce. He pled guilty to the charge in January 2015 and the divorce was finalized in August 2015, with McSharry paying his ex-wife $100,000 on top of $170,000, which was held in a safe deposit box.
Ripp’s blog post alleges more graphic behavior against a fourth victim, but that account could not be corroborated by press time.
According to Beck’s motion, Wilson met with both DiNardi and Ripp in January 2018 and upon Wilson’s suggestion, DiNardi scheduled a “formal” meeting with the mayor and Police Chief Stephanie Hollinghead in late January or early February. Beck claimed Wilson took notes during the meetings and was withholding those notes from the defense.
Municipal Judge Haymes Snedecker later issued an order for Wilson to produce the notes, and Ripp said they were partially introduced at trial April 17 in an effort “to politicize the case, smear the mayor and traumatize the victim.”
Ripp noted city attorney and prosecutor Marcus McDowell, who has allegedly prosecuted McSharry as many as four times, did not object to Beck’s motions and neither he nor Snedeker attempted to clarify the relevancy of Wilson’s involvement in the case. Throughout Wilson’s first term as mayor, McDowell has been publicly scolded by Wilson for allegedly excluding her from city business.
McDowell did not respond to a request for comment, but Wilson said Monday she “happily” complied with Snedeker’s order to produce the notes and was prepared to be disposed or testify in the case but was never called. She told Lagniappe her involvement was influenced by both her knowledge of McSharry’s past behavior and her role as mayor.
“When somebody reaches out to me fearing for their safety, my door will always be open,” she said. “Part of my job is public safety and I will absolutely do everything I can to ensure all residents and visitors feel safe in this city.”
In Beck’s motion to dismiss filed in December, he noted McSharry was currently admitted into inpatient treatment at Gulf Breeze Recovery, with an anticipated release date in late January.
Meanwhile, Ripp claims DiNardi incurred $6,000 in medical costs due to the fall and is considering filing a civil suit against McSharry. A video of the incident was recorded by the Christmas Club’s security system, but it was not introduced into evidence.
John Mullen contributed to this report.
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