Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano tried to mask his $2,000 loan to Del. Hattie N. Harrison in 1990 by using a promissory note between a paralegal at his law firm and the Baltimore legislator, according to court papers filed yesterday.
The prosecutors' filings -- which provide new details about the loan -- are part of a pending federal fraud case against Mr. Bereano. He is accused of disguising thousands of dollars in campaign donations by channeling the money through relatives
and employees, and billing clients for the funds.
Prosecutors contend that Mr. Bereano asked paralegal Pam Young to write a personal check to the legislator for $2,000 "so nothing would look improper," according to their latest filings. Ms. Young later was reimbursed by check from a law firm account, prosecutors say.
Ms. Harrison repaid the loan in cash nine months later, with Ms. Young again the go-between, according to the filings.
Ms. Harrison apparently violated state ethics laws by failing to report the loan on financial disclosure forms. Commenting on that omission last week, she said the money was for a friend in financial trouble rather than for her own personal use. Mr. Bereano told her that the transaction was legal, she said.
Mr. Bereano has argued that the loan is irrelevant to the fraud charges, and that the information should not be admitted at his trial, scheduled to open Oct. 31.
But prosecutors claim that Mr. Bereano sought to disguise the source of the loan. And though the loan is not directly related to any of the fraud charges, they hope to use the evidence in court to reflect how he did business with legislators.
Efforts to reach Mr. Bereano yesterday were unsuccessful; since his indictment, he has said it would be inappropriate to comment about the case outside a courtroom. Ms. Harrison also could not be reached for comment yesterday.
George Lantzas, an attorney for Ms. Young, declined to comment yesterday.
Mr. Bereano was indicted in May on charges that he defrauded clients. Prosecutors contend that he disguised more than $16,000 in campaign contributions by asking members of his law firm and their families to make the payments, then reimbursing them from firm coffers. Mr. Bereano is accused of billing clients in the amount of the contributions.
"There can be little doubt of the reliability of the evidence," prosecutors said in their latest filing. If U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson allows the information to be used at Mr. Bereano's trial, prosecutors say that they will produce the checks from Ms. Young to Ms. Harrison, as well as the law firm check used to reimburse Ms. Young.
Prosecutors also disclosed yesterday that they plan to show Nadine Snyder, whose marriage to Mr. Bereano ended in divorce, made more than 15 political contributions on behalf of her then-husband. He reimbursed her in cash for each contribution, according to court records.
A state prosecutor and the General Assembly's ethics committee plan to pursue separate inquiries of Ms. Harrison's acceptance of the loan, although both intend to wait until federal prosecutors finish the fraud case against Mr. Bereano.