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Lots of houses, one swing set

The Baltimore Sun

As publisher of Baltimore magazine, Steve Geppi gives ordinary readers a glimpse of how the other half lives. Now, for haves, he offers more than glossy fantasy: the opportunity to buy two Baltimore County mansions he's trying to unload.

The CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors and minority Orioles owner is a collector, with enough comic books, animation cels and other pop culture treasures to fill Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Camden Station. Apparently he's also collected two too many houses, because he has one for sale in Stevenson for $7.7 million and another on the market in Cockeysville for $2.5 million.

The more expensive one - an eight-bedroom spread built in 1848 for a Baltimore coffee merchant - is listed in state tax records as Geppi's principal residence. So where's he going?

(Of course, Geppi is entitled to move anywhere he likes. It would just be interesting if a guy who glorifies Baltimore living every month moves out of the area.)

Geppi did not return calls seeking comment. His RE/MAX agent, Jim Stephens, wasn't at liberty to say.

But Stephens did refer me to two Web addresses - www.4040StewartRoad.com and www.4Laurelford Court.com - where I could take video tours of a combined 24,000 square feet of gracious living. All custom mahogany wainscoting, alabaster wall sconces and radiant-heated marble floors, not to mention a home theater with three-level stadium seating. Koi pond and two waterfalls convey. But wherever they're going, the Geppis are taking the kids' "play ship/swing set" with them.

Politicians make their final trips to the well

Maryland has done a great job of getting money out of politics. Which is why lawmakers, prohibited from fundraising during the 90-day General Assembly session that begins today, have just completed their annual mad dash for campaign cash.

There were five breakfasts yesterday alone, for Sens. David Brinkley, Cathy Pugh and Jim Rosapepe, and Dels. Robert Costa and Sue Hecht. There also was a lunch for Sen. Anthony Muse.

On Monday, Anne Arundel Dels. James King, Nicholaus Kipke and Steven Schuh made it convenient for lobbyists and others making the rounds by putting on a joint fundraiser at the BWI Hilton. Sens. Thomas "Mac" Middleton and Rob Garagiola held their events in Annapolis. But Comptroller Peter Franchot and Del. Jay Walker dragged their fans all the way to D.C. and Prince George's County, respectively.

"I just wish I had a helicopter," said lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who's put about 640 miles on his '98 Mercedes since the weekend.

Bereano said he has settled for the next-best thing: a radar detector.

Now which side of the room has more comfy seats, Your Honor?

A guy was convicted in a handgun case in Baltimore this week. Think you've heard this one before? Tell it to the judge - the judge who served on the jury.

Retired Circuit Judge Paul Smith was jury foreman. Also on the jury was Aletha Clyburn, the wife of Chief District Judge (and Armani aficionado) Ben Clyburn.

Like everybody else in the jury pool, Smith was asked if he knew defense attorney Dwight Pettit or prosecutor Chris Sandman. Smith indicated that he knew both, but also that he could be fair, Circuit Judge John Prevas, who presided over the case, told me. No one asked that he be struck.

Connect the dots

Along with a special advertising section for cosmetic surgeons ("Less Pain More Gain"), this month's Baltimore magazine has a big spread on the area's top gyms. "[J]ust in case both your head and your abs need a little work," it says, the Merritt club in Canton has an "on-staff psychiatrist." Really? Loredana Petrucci has a doctorate in psychology. She's not a shrink. As the club's "personal well-being specialist," she doles out "wellness counseling," not Wellbutrin. ... Martin O'Malley is backing Hillary Clinton for president. So why is Barack Obama the one with an O'Malley-ish campaign ad, on YouTube and elsewhere? Title: "Believe." ... Among the celebrities who savor The Wire: wine sage Robert Parker. The Wall Street Journal reports that Parker, who lives in Monkton, got a fan letter last year from Dominic West, who plays detective Jimmy McNulty on the HBO series. They later had dinner together, along with Simon and cast members Sonja Sohn, Wendell Pierce and Andre Royo. "Mr. Parker had suggested that he play a sommelier in the series, but that didn't work out," the paper said. ... New York Observer reviewer Hillary Frey wrote that The Wire "drowned" her in "the state and local politics that have bedeviled my mother for her nearly 20 years as an aide to a Maryland state senator." Iris Frey works for Anne Arundel Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire. She's also worked for former Sens. Sandy Schrader and Marty Madden.

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