Former Montgomery County politician Ruthann Aron lost her bid yesterday to be transferred early from the Montgomery jail to a work-release program after the judge who sentenced her said she still needed to be punished for soliciting two murders.

Aron, a onetime U.S. Senate candidate and Potomac millionaire, had asked Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Vincent E. Ferretti Jr. to reconsider the 36-month sentence he gave her last November. After two lengthy trials, Aron dropped her insanity plea to charges that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her estranged husband, urologist Barry Aron, and District lawyer Arthur Kahn in June 1997.

Aron's attorneys argued yesterday that her mental illness was worsening in jail and that she needed to be housed at the county's Pre-Release Center to get more effective medication and therapy during outpatient day treatment at Suburban Hospital.

But after a three-hour hearing, Ferretti told Aron that while she might be suffering some "inconvenience," she needed more time in jail, where her private psychiatrist visits her once a week.

Aron cried and dabbed her eyes with the sleeve of her maroon shirt as Ferretti said: "There may be some harm to her as a result of punishment. It just can't be any other way. I'm satisfied [the original sentence] is appropriate."

Aron tearfully told the judge that she didn't know how to apologize for her crimes more than she already had.

"I'm as dark and as dead as I'll ever be," Aron said.

With credit for good behavior, Aron could be transferred to the Pre-Release Center in April and could be released from incarceration altogether next October, corrections officials have said.

CAPTION: "I'm as dark and as dead as I'll ever be," Ruthann Aron told the judge.