Probation officials block lobbyist's return to work

Judge in Bereano case says lobby work allowed

February 20, 1999|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

He's got the judge's qualified permission, but probation authorities apparently are not yet ready to let Bruce C. Bereano return to the practice of lobbying in Annapolis.

A secretary in Bereano's office said yesterday she did not expect him to be released for work on Monday.

One of Annapolis' most successful lobbyists, Bereano is serving a five-month sentence for mail fraud at the Volunteers of America facility on East Monument Street. Though he had expected to be allowed to lobby, probation officials have tried to block that activity.

At the halfway house, a disciplinary hearing was to have been held yesterday to examine whether Bereano had violated a ban on lobbying imposed by VOA's team of managers, including his federal probation officer, Renata Ramsburg.

She had taken the position that Bereano should not be allowed to lobby because the offenses he was convicted of in 1994 occurred while he was a lobbyist. Bereano contends no such restriction was imposed by the court.

Bereano could not be reached and officials at VOA had no comment.

But yesterday, his lawyer, Joshua R. Treem, released a letter from Judge William M. Nickerson who presided over the case.

Convicted on eight counts of mail fraud, Bereano was sentenced to five months of incarceration at the halfway house and five months of electronically monitored home detention, plus a $30,000 fine.

Nickerson's ruling explicitly provided for work release while Bereano was at the halfway house, and yesterday he said work release could include lobbying.

"I discussed this matter with Ms. Ramsburg and I understand that Mr. Bereano will be permitted to work as a lobbyist within the normal restrictions of VOA residents," the judge wrote.

Though not commenting directly on the Bereano matter, VOA spokesman William J. McKemey said Thursday that he thought a "balance" could be struck eventually.

Some basic elements of what he called "accountability" -- knowing precisely what Bereano was doing and where -- were "nonnegotiable," he said.

Pub Date: 2/20/99

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