Tuesday, October 9, 2012

UPDATE: Delegate Tiffany Alston Takes Plea Deal // Prince George's Lawmaker May Be Suspended From Office

UPDATE: The Daily Record reports that legal counsel to the Maryland General Assembly asserts Del. Alston will be suspended. That will trigger an immediate 30-day deadline for the Prince George's Democratic Central Committee to fill her seat with a replacement. Note that Alston is contesting the suspension. See an excerpt from the Daily Record's report below:
DAILY RECORD: A Maryland delegate who reached a plea agreement with the state prosecutor this week was automatically suspended from office without pay when a judge sentenced her, the legal counsel to the Maryland General Assembly concluded in a legal opinion Wednesday.

Dan Friedman responded to a request from House Speaker Michael Busch, who asked for legal advice regarding Del. Tiffany Alston’s status after she entered a plea deal on Tuesday....

In his opinion Wednesday, Friedman also wrote that Alston’s suspension has triggered the process for appointing a person to temporarily fill her position. The Democratic Central Committee for Prince George’s County has 30 days from Tuesday to forward names of temporary replacements to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who then has 15 days to select a replacement.

In case you haven't yet heard, there has been movement in the case of Delegate Tiffany Alston (District 24 Democrat). Last June, the Daily Record discussed the legal troubles of Del. Alston. They wrote that the Prince George's lawmaker was convicted by a jury of misdemeanor theft and misconduct in office. Today they updated us on the saga and reported that Alston has taken a plea deal:
DAILY RECORD: A Maryland lawmaker pleaded guilty Tuesday to misconduct for paying an employee in her law office $800 in state money.... Del. Tiffany Alston, D-Prince George’s, made the plea agreement to settle two separate cases after a jury in June found her guilty in the case involving state money.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Harris ... sentenced Alston to one year of jail with all of the time suspended. She also was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and 300 hours of community service. She must pay the money back to the state....
Prosecutors are arguing that the plea triggers an immediate suspension from office, but media reports are a little unclear. The Washington Post's Ann Marimow notes that Alston is arguing that whether or not she can remain in public service is uncertain (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Alston (D) was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday morning on charges of using campaign money to pay for some of her wedding expenses. In June, she was found guilty in a separate case of stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her private law firm.

Alston’s future in the General Assembly was unclear Tuesday, with prosecutors saying she must leave the legislature, and Alston saying the issue is not yet decided.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said Maryland’s Constitution requires that the first-term lawmaker must automatically give up her seat once a conviction becomes final at the time of sentencing....

We'll update you on what this means for Tiffany Alston's seat when he hear more.

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