Prison term recommended for Bereano


Federal prosecutors filed papers yesterday asking that Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano receive 2 1/2 years in prison and pay a $60,000 fine when he is sentenced for mail fraud next week.

In a 27-page memorandum to U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson, prosecutors characterized Bereano as remorseless, saying that in conversations with a probation officer, he continues to maintain his innocence. The lobbyist, who was convicted in November of defrauding clients of more than $16,000, abused a position of trust with his clients and engaged in a complex scheme that required more than minimal planning, prosecutors argued in the document.

Bereano lawyer Albert Figinski said he had not seen the memorandum, but said the request was too harsh. "That's way out of line with anything that justice would require," Mr. Figinski said. He would not discuss the contents of his sentencing memorandum, which he expects to file with the court Thursday.

Bereano, for years the most successful lobbyist in Maryland, will be sentenced April 21 on eight counts of mail fraud. Bereano was convicted Nov. 30 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for fraudulently billing a number of clients for illegal campaign contributions he made through employees of his law firm, family members and the Bereano PAC.

In preparation for his sentencing, Bereano has asked some state legislators to vouch for his character in written references to the judge.

Technically, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. But in calculating the severity of Bereano's crimes under federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors concluded that he was eligible for a sentence ranging from 30 to 37 months.

"Given Bereano's significant net worth, the government recommends a substantial fine and full restitution," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dale P. Kelberman and Stephen S. Zimmermann. In their memorandum, they calculated that Bereano is eligible to pay a fine ranging anywhere from $6,000 to $60,000.

Since his conviction, Bereano has lost many of his 46 clients, including one who professed loyalty at his trial.

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