A fear of what he regards as a "death" sentence in a Maryland state prison kept police informant and burglar Thomas O'Leary from appearing to be sentenced on Wednesday, his father said yesterday.

"He's run, but he wants to come back," said George O'Leary, who said he has received three phone calls from his son since Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David L. Cahoon forefeited his $45,000 bond and issued a bench warrant for his arrest Wednesday afternoon.

Several persons whose homes were burglarized had been prepared to ask the judge to impose the 40-year maximum penalty O'Leary faced for four burglaries to which he pleased guilty in January. Such testimony at a sentencing is unusual but not unprecedented.

O'Leary's fear for his own life stems from his belief that he would be an easy mark in a Maryland prison where his police work is known. He wants instead to be incarcerated in another state or federal prison.

"All he's saying is, 'Don't give me a death sentence,'" his father said yesterday."All he's saying is, 'I've already pleaded guilty. Don't put me on trial again.'"

O'Leary's dual career as a self-described police "agent" and burglar was described in The Washington Post the day before his scheduled sentencing. Charged last July with committing 26 burglaries of affluent sub-urban homes, O'Leary said he decided to tell his story in the hope that he would be sent to a federal prison for his own protection.