Prince George's state delegate Alston indicted for stealing campaign funds

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Liz Essley
A Prince George's delegate to the Maryland State House was indicted Friday for stealing campaign funds to pay for her wedding and other personal needs.

The office of the state prosecutor said Del. Tiffany Alston stole nearly $6,000 from a campaign fund in 2010 to pay for her nuptials and to cover the salary of an employee in her Lanham law firm. Alston withdrew cash and wrote checks to herself in several different instances, officials said.

Alston, a 31-year-old freshman delegate, is best known for initiating and then backing off a proposal to legalize gay marriage in Maryland earlier this year. She married recently and has one child.

In a separate case, the state prosecutor also indicted Darrell Miller, former Capitol Heights mayor and Washington-Post endorsed candidate for Prince George's county council, for stealing at least $1,000 from a campaign fund for personal use. The indictment alleged that Miller paid for personal items with a campaign debit card while he was running for the county's District 7 seat, which he later lost to Karen Toles.

Miller, 47, was mayor of Capitol Heights from 2006 to 2010.

Both Miller and Alston were charged in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court with felony theft, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and multiple election law violations. They could each face up to 10 years in prison or a $10,000 fine for the felony theft in addition to jail time or fines for the other offenses. The maximum fine for an election law offense is $25,000.

Alston did not answer calls to her state office or law office. In an e-mail to the Washington Post Friday night, she denied the charges. The Post also reported that investigators began scrutinizing Alston's funds after a county employee sent them a tip.

In a statement accompanying the Friday indictment, state prosecutor Emmet Davitt said candidates had "no excuse" for the thefts and outlined the many ways candidates can learn about the rules for campaign funds.

"Under these circumstances, there is simply no excuse for candidates or their responsible campaign finance officers to fragrantly and repeatedly violate the requirements of the law in the conduct of their campaign finances," he said.

Prince George's County has been hard hit recently by charges of unethical behavior by government officials.

Earlier this year former county executive Jack Johnson and his wife, Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, were found guilty of bribery and evidence tampering, respectively, after an FBI probe caught them in action. Jack Johnson first pleaded innocent but later admitted he took more than $400,000 in bribes in an elaborate pay-to-play development scheme while serving as county executive. Leslie Johnson famously stuffed nearly $80,000 down her bra and flushed another $100,000 down the toilet when law enforcement officers came knocking on her door Nov. 12. She pleaded guilty and quit her council job earlier this year.

Nine other people, including three police officers, were charged in a related corruption investigation last year.

Corruption has been an issue for the county going back as far as the 1960s when Jesse Baggett, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, was found guilty of accepting favors and gifts from a developer.

Miller and Alston will next have to face arraignment hearings, which are not yet scheduled.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner