PG delegate faces more criminal charges

Prince George's County Del. Tiffany Alston is facing new criminal charges after being accused Thursday of making the General Assembly pay the salary of an employee in her private law practice.

Alston, a Democrat, was charged in September with misusing campaign funds to purchase, among other items, a wedding dress.

The new charges were handed up Thursday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury after an investigation by Maryland's Office of the State Prosecutor.

In the indictment, prosecutors allege that the delegate added the $100-a-day clerk position to her state office payroll in January. The employee never worked in Annapolis and instead was assigned to her law firm, authorities said. The prosecutors say $800 was stolen.

Alston has denied any wrongdoing in the initial theft charges related to her campaign funds. Asked via email to respond to the new charges, Alston inquired about a reporter's deadline and then did not reply to further messages.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch requested Thursday that the Department of Legislative Services conduct biweekly reviews of Alston's legislative account and "assume responsibility for verifying the time sheets of her legislative employees," according to a statement from his office.

"The allegation of theft of state dollars warrants an immediate response to assure the public that legislative funds are being used appropriately by those who have been entrusted with them," Busch said in a statement.

Most delegates have a budget of about $35,000 a year for staff and office supplies. Lawmakers in leadership posts receive more.

Aside from the charges, Alston, a freshman delegate, is best known for an episode last spring during the debate over same-sex marriage. She walked out of a House Judiciary Committee voting session on the gay marriage bill, withdrawing her support for the measure even though she co-sponsored it.

Alston, along with several other lawmakers, also walked out of a Legislative Black Caucus meeting in October. Their action denied the body the quorum needed to take a position on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed congressional redistricting map.

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