The city's former chief of staff pleaded no contest Monday to a reduced charge stemming from an incident where he allegedly brandished a baseball bat during an argument with his wife.

Jim Ferguson maintains he was only trying to block the door to keep his wife, Nina, from getting into the family's home and did not threaten her with it.He also allegedly tore the phone cord from the wall to keep her from calling for help.

Ferguson's plea to a disorderly conduct charge was part of a deal struck with prosecutors, who reduced the original charge of brandishing a dangerous weapon during an argument.

According to the police report, Ferguson's wife said he threatened her and her daughter, Laura.

"James was very close to Laura's face and was holding the bat up by his face and shaking it," the report said.

Weber County prosecutor Dean Saunders also agreed to drop the charge if Ferguson has no other charges against him in six months and attends an anger management course.

Saunders is handling the case because of potential conflicts of interest in the Cache County prosecutor's office.

Ferguson was the second-highest-ranking city employee under former Mayor Darla Clark, but resigned after she lost her re-election bid. He had said he couldn't work in Mayor Doug Thompson's administration.

But in the 1st District Court hearing, Ferguson's attorney Brian Florence said his client lost his job because of the charges.

"It has had substantial fallout in his life and (his wife's) life," Florence said.

Ferguson is unemployed and living in Salt Lake County, Florence said, and is still with his wife, who opposed filing charges in the case.

State law allows prosecutors to press charges in domestic violence cases without consent from the victim.