- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Court dates are set for a state delegate from Prince George’s County accused of stealing campaign money to pay for her wedding and the salary of an attorney at her law firm, according to the office of the state prosecutor.

Delegate Tiffany T. Alston, a Democrat elected in November, is scheduled for arraignment in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Oct. 12. Her trial is scheduled for January.

She is accused of using campaign funds for personal use on several occasions in September and December 2010.

According to the indictment, Ms. Alston withdrew $1,250 cash from her campaign account for personal expenses, paid one of her law firm employees $660 from the account, and cut two checks from the account totaling $3,560 to cover her wedding expenses. Both of the checks bounced because of insufficient funds and were returned to the bank.

Among the charges Ms. Alston faces is felony theft, which is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The other charges leveled against her are misdemeanor theft, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary, and two election law violations.

Ms. Alston, 34, could not be reached for comment, and court records did not list an attorney representing her. In a written statement, Ms. Alston has denied all criminal wrongdoing.

However, prosecutors said she should have known better.

“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 said. “No candidate or committee can possibly be unaware that campaign funds may not be converted to the personal use of an officer or candidate.”

Ms. Alston is perhaps known best for her flip-flop on Maryland’s same sex-marriage proposal this year. She first co-sponsored the bill but later voted against it after delaying its progress when she missed a committee vote.

The indictment comes while Prince George’s County is reeling from a series of corruption scandals.

Former County Executive Jack B. Johnson has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Johnson’s wife, Leslie E. Johnson, also pleaded guilty in connection with the probe and was forced to resign her seat on the County Council.

Meanwhile, the trial of another official, state Sen. Ulysses Currie, began this week. Mr. Currie, a Democrat who represents the county, is accused of taking $245,000 in bribes to use his influence in favor of grocery store chain Shoppers Food & Pharmacy.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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