PORTLAND — Bruce A. Taliento, a former Portland mayor whose political career ended when he was convicted of embezzling from an insurance company, has died at the age of 48.
Taliento was found dead Wednesday evening, Dec. 15, at his oceanfront home in Old Orchard Beach. A medical examiner said Taliento, who had a history of seizures, died of natural causes.
“Bruce was a very smart guy, really a terrific young man,” former Gov. Joseph E. Brennan said Friday. “He was a kid with tremendous promise.”
Taliento was elected to the Portland City Council at the age of 23 and became the city’s youngest-ever mayor two years later. But he reluctantly resigned in December 1978 after it was revealed that he had built a palatial home on the ocean in Cape Elizabeth, violating a requirement that he live in Portland.
Taliento was seen as a potential gubernatorial candidate, and served as an assistant to the finance commissioner in the Brennan administration. But his career collapsed in 1980 when he pleaded guilty to embezzling $200,000 from his former employer, U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co., and served three years in prison.
“Bruce hit the top and he hit the bottom,” said Linda Abromson, who served on the City Council with Taliento, “and he did both gracefully.”
While in prison, Taliento told a reporter, “I can look back now and see myself on a treadmill: Out of college a year. Elected to the council. Elected mayor. Things happened too fast, like a horse out of the starting gate.”
After his release, Taliento briefly considered getting into politics again, but decided against it. Instead, he kept a low profile, ran a small food brokerage firm out of his home, and raised his son, Anthony, now a freshman at Fordham University.
A funeral Mass will be said Monday at St. Peter’s Church in Portland.