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Md. lawmaker indicted on theft charges

- Associated Press - Friday, September 23, 2011

A Maryland state delegate was charged Friday with using campaign funds to pay for wedding expenses and for the salary of an employee at her law firm.

Tiffany Alston, 31, was indicted on charges of felony and misdemeanor theft, misappropriation by a fiduciary and election law offenses.

Prosecutors say Ms. Alston, a Prince George's County Democrat who was elected in January and then played a focal role in the General Assembly's debate over gay marriage, issued two checks totaling $3,560 from her campaign account to cover her wedding expenses. She also used her campaign account to make payments of $660 to a law firm employee, and also withdrew $1,250 for personal use last December, prosecutors said.

"Under these circumstances, there is simply no excuse for candidates or their responsible campaign finance officers to flagrantly and repeatedly violate the requirements of the law in the conduct of their campaign finances," State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, whose office brought the charges, said in a written statement.

She did not immediately return calls left at her Statehouse office or at her law office. It was not immediately clear if she had a lawyer.

The indictment was returned Friday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury.

Ms. Alston made news in March when she and another lawmaker skipped a critical vote on gay marriage, leaving supporters at least two votes shy of the 12 they needed to advance the bill. She signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill to give same-sex couples in Maryland the same legal rights as heterosexuals but wound up voting against the bill in committee, saying she was having trouble balancing her personal views and pressure from constituents.

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