Bereano loan excluded as trial evidence

October 29, 1994|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,Sun Staff Writer

The $2,000 loan Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano gave to Del. Hattie N. Harrison in 1990 will not be allowed as evidence in the lobbyist's federal mail fraud trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 7.

U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson sided yesterday with defense lawyers, who had argued that the loan was irrelevant to the fraud charges.

Mr. Bereano is accused of disguising thousands of dollars in campaign donations by channeling the money through relatives and employees, and billing clients for the funds.

Although the loan was not directly related to any of the fraud charges, prosecutors had hoped to use it in court to reflect how he did business with legislators.

In court documents, prosecutors claimed that Mr. Bereano channeled the loan through an employee of his law firm, who, they said, signed a promissory note making it appear that she had issued the loan to Ms. Harrison.

The Baltimore Democrat repaid the loan in cash nine months later, and the law firm employee again was the go-between, the prosecutors said.

In an interview this month, Ms. Harrison said the money was for a friend in financial trouble, rather than for her own use. She apparently violated state ethics laws by not reporting the loan on financial disclosure forms.

A state prosecutor and the General Assembly's ethics committee have said they will inquire into Ms. Harrison's acceptance of the loan after the fraud trial.

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