Bereano asks legislators to put in a good word


Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano is asking some state legislators for character references he can use in his forthcoming sentencing on federal mail fraud charges.

In letters delivered to several lawmakers yesterday, Bereano said he wanted the judge deciding his fate to hear from people who truly know him. "I really want to convey to the judge the true and real kind of person I am and how others think of me," he wrote in one such letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Sun.

The two presiding officers of the General Assembly said they are considering the appeal and may send letters on Bereano's behalf.

Bereano, for years the most successful lobbyist in Maryland, will be sentenced April 21 on seven counts of mail fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

On Nov. 30, a U.S. District Court jury in Baltimore convicted him of tricking his clients into paying for more than $16,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Maryland politicians.

Bereano has told some lawmakers that he expects prosecutors to ask for an especially tough sentence on grounds that his crime caused a loss of public confidence in state government.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a Democrat from Cumberland, said he did not believe Bereano's conviction damaged citizens' view of the legislature.

Mr. Taylor said he probably will write a letter for Bereano, adding that he has always had "good dealings" with the lobbyist.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. also said he does not believe Bereano's case worsened people's perception of lawmakers. "The public is cynical of government at present -- with or without information concerning Bruce Bereano," said Mr. Miller, D-Prince George's.

"I don't think he should be held to a standard any different than any other person who comes before the bar of justice," he said.

Mr. Miller said he, too, is considering putting in a good word for Bereano, whom many legislators like.

Bereano, 50, declined to comment, as did several other legislators who received letters from him requesting character references.

His letter to at least one lawmaker included an information sheet with several tips. It advised those writing the judge to consider addressing their own character, their knowledge of Bereano and their judgment of Bereano's character, such as his reliability and values.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale P. Kelberman, who prosecuted the case, declined to say what his sentencing recommendation would be.

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