- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2011

Maryland prosecutors announced additional charges Thursday against Delegate Tiffany T. Alston, saying she used state funds to pay an employee at her law firm.

Ms. Alston, Prince George’s Democrat, previously was indicted in September by an Anne Arundel County grand jury on charges that she used thousands in campaign funds to cover her wedding expenses and pay a law-firm employee.

She was charged in September with felony theft, misdemeanor theft, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and two election-laws violations.

Ms. Alston now faces additional charges of theft and misconduct in office, stemming from allegations that she gave a law-firm employee a no-show, $100-a-day job as a legislative clerk and used the funds to compensate the employee for her work at the law firm.

The employee received $800, according to charging documents.

As a result, House Speaker Michael E. Busch has asked a state agency to conduct biweekly reviews of Ms. Alston’s legislative account.

Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, said he also has asked the Department of Legislative Services to assume responsibility for verifying timesheets of her legislative employees.

Mr. Busch says that while Ms. Alston has not been convicted of a crime, he thinks the allegation of theft of state dollars warrants an immediate response to ensure legislative funds are being used appropriately.

Ms. Alston, who took office in January, made waves during her first General Assembly session by withdrawing her co-sponsorship and support of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. After doing so, she publicly criticized Democratic leaders for pressuring her to vote in favor of the bill.

She was also one of just six Democratic lawmakers to vote against a congressional redistricting map submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, and approved in October by the assembly.

Ms. Alston’s attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, has said charges against her seem like retaliation for her actions and that questions into her use of campaign funds should have been handled by the state Board of Elections, not a criminal court.

Mr. Gordon did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.

In the first indictment against Ms. Alston, prosecutors said she withdrew $1,250 in cash from her campaign account for personal expenses, paid one of her law firm’s employees $660 from the account and wrote two checks from the account totaling $3,560 to pay for wedding expenses.

Both checks bounced because of insufficient funds and were returned to the bank.

Ms. Alston faces a maximum 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine if convicted of felony theft, as well as additional penalties for other charges. Her trial is scheduled to begin May 14.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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