Robert Craig Gross, a chief of staff to former Gov. Mike Leavitt, has pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in a road-rage incident in which he was accused of brandishing his gun.

Gross, who was Leavitt's chief of staff in 1997 and an unsuccessful 1st U.S. House District hopeful in 2002, was fined $250 by 4th District Judge Lynn Davis.

Gross originally was charged with one class A misdemeanor count of brandishing a firearm. Prosecutors said he used his .40-caliber handgun to threaten three occupants of a pickup truck while driving northbound on the freeway Aug. 14.

Gross said the plea resolution was prompted by the realization that it would require "substantial additional costs to try the case and achieve full exoneration."

His wife, Kristine Gross, said in the statement that a pickup truck pulled in front of them, causing her husband to slam on his brakes, honk his horn and swerve to avoid a collision.

"Then the three chased us down and tried to run us off the road," she said. "I felt threatened and fearful for our lives. All Bob did was move his weapon from where it was concealed under his seat to under his legs. Bob made every attempt to get away from these individuals as they came alongside our car and veered into our lane."

In his written statement for the Utah Highway Patrol, Robert Gross claimed: "At no time did I intend to brandish the weapon, point it or threaten with it."

The truck occupants claimed it was Gross who cut them off. Driver Raymond Carter told troopers that Gross "flashed a pistol . . . and raised it up and down a few times to let us know he was armed."

One of the truck's occupants called 911 on a cell phone, and Gross was stopped by a UHP trooper.

At the time of the incident, Gross had recently returned from Iraq, where he spent a half year as adviser to U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer.