A key witness in the theft trial of Maryland Del. Tiffany T. Alston testified Wednesday that she performed legislative work for the Prince George’s Democrat, contradicting a claim made by prosecutors.
Alston is on trial in Anne Arundel County Court, charged with stealing $800 in General Assembly funds to pay Rayshawn Ford for work Ford allegedly did for Alston’s law firm in January 2011. But Ford, 25, told the jury that she helped with Alston’s legislative work from Alston’s Prince George’s law office.
Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt warned jurors in his opening statement Tuesday that Ford had become an unreliable witness. Though Ford initially brought information about the source of her payments to prosecutors, she had since become reluctant to talk to them, Davitt said.
Called to the stand by the prosecution Wednesday, Ford said that she was threatened with arrest if she didn’t cooperate with prosecutors, a claim a special agent from the office strenuously denied in separate testimony. Ford also said that she has known Alston and her family for two decades and that she considered Alston “a mentor” and “a role model.”
Alston’s attorneys have said that, in addition to her Annapolis office, the freshman delegate operated a district office for legislative work out of her law firm’s office. Ford backed up that claim Wednesday, telling the jury that she “worked at the district office.”
Prosecutors presented other witnesses Wednesday intended to contradict Alston’s representation.
James Goff, the fiscal operations officer for the Department of Legislative Services, said Alston did not register a district office until January 2012, a year after the episode in question.
Alicia Adams, an aide to Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), testified that she was not aware that Alston had a district office and that she had never heard of Ford. Alston and Walker share an office suite in Annapolis.
A bank officer also testified that Alston’s law firm bounced 49 checks during 2010. Prosecutors have alleged that Alston used General Assembly funds because of financial troubles at her law firm.