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Hogan appoints son of prominent lobbyist to bench

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan appointed the son of a prominent lobbyist as a judge.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday appointed three people to the Prince George's County District Court, including a lawyer who is the son of a prominent and controversial Annapolis lobbyist.

Bryon Bereano is a widely respected attorney for the Prince George's County Office of Law and was vetted by the state's non-partisan judicial nominating commission. He is also son to Bruce Bereano, the second-highest paid lobbyist in Annapolis and an ally of Hogan.

Hogan spokesman Douglass V. Mayer said Bryon Bereano's appointment was unrelated to his family connections.

"The governor's judicial appointments are based solely on the person's ability to fairly ... administer the law," Mayer said. Bruce Bereano did not respond to requests for comment.

Bryon Bereano declined to discuss the appointment except to issue a statement saying he was "honored" to have been selected. "I appreciate the faith that he has shown in me and I hope to be able to repay that faith to him and with the citizens of Prince George's County," he said.

Last week, Hogan took a break from glad-handing at the annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield by visiting the elder Bereano's tent - the largest at the political gathering. Bruce Bereano is a longtime Annapolis powerhouse and organized a prayer service for Hogan on the morning of the governor's inauguration last year. 

Two lawyers familiar with the work of the younger Bereano described him as a exemplary attorney, the former head of the Prince George's County Bar Association, and a qualified pick for the bench.

"Mr. Bereano is a very bright lawyer, a very hardworking lawyer and most importantly, he gets along very well with everyone, including his adversaries," said Jeffery L. Harding, a Prince George's County lawyer for more than three decades and the president of the county's bar association. 

"He's got a lot of dignity and class," said Timothy Maloney, an attorney and former state lawmaker.

Maloney has also filed petitions to overturn the elder Bereano's felony conviction for mail fraud in the 1990s. The case, which cost Bruce Bereano his law license, involved charging clients for what ultimately became political donations funneled through a political action committee. 

Bereano has nonetheless remained a colorful, tireless and effective force in Annapolis. He reported $1.389 million in lobbying receipts between November 2015 and April 30 this year, according to the state's most recent report.

Other sons of powerful Annapolis figures have faced scrutiny when appointed to the bench.

In 2008, then-Gov. Martin O'Malley nominated Thomas V. Mike Miller III, the son of the Senate president, for a position on the Anne Arundel County District Court. Three members of the county's judicial nominating commission resigned in protest. Two years later, a Senate panel confirmed the nomination.

In addition to Bryon Bereano, Hogan announced the appointment of Ada Clark-Edwards, a prosecutor, and Donnaka Lewis, a current District Court official. The three were among 13 approved by the county's nominating commission.

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