Former client sues Bereano

June 15, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Bruce C. Bereano, the state's highest paid lobbyist, was sued for $2 million in Anne Arundel Circuit Court yesterday by an Annapolis woman who claims that as her attorney he mishandled her separation agreement.

The suit by Marianela R. Sargent of the 300 block of Bridle Path Lane alleges that Mr. Bereano mistakenly told her she was ineligible for support or alimony, failed to advise her of her right to a $40,000 pension that was joint property and misrepresented a legal accord that divided the pension.

Mr. Bereano called the allegations "preposterous."

The suit alleges that Mr. Bereano advised Mrs. Sargent in 1991 to waive her claims for support or alimony even though the Sargents had two school-aged children, her husband earned $80,000 a year and she "fulfilled the functions of a mother and housewife and rarely worked outside of the home."

Mrs. Sargent's suit also claims that Mr. Bereano told her he had worked out a deal in which her husband, Terry Randolph Sargent, would receive 50 percent of the pension funds and Mrs. Sargent would lend the rest to her husband to buy a condominium.

Mr. Bereano told her that Mr. Sargent would repay the loan when the family home was sold so that she could buy another house, according to the suit.

In fact, the agreement provides for Mrs. Sargent to be repaid at a date to be decided by Mr. Sargent, the suit alleges.

Mrs. Sargent, who paid Mr. Bereano $1,500 for his services, is seeking $1 million in professional negligence claims and $1 million for breach of contract.

Mr. Bereano said Mrs. Sargent is trying to take advantage of federal charges against him. "For her to come back years later like this, I think is very suspect," he said.

Mr. Bereano was charged by federal prosecutors last month with eight counts of mail fraud for allegedly defrauding clients of about $16,000 by padding his bills for legislative entertainment and using the money to make illegal political contributions through family members and employees.

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