The Washington Post

Del. Alston, prosecutors close to pretrial deal

Maryland state prosecutors and attorneys for Prince George’s Del. Tiffany Alston said Thursday that they had agreed to the outlines of a deal that would allow her to avoid trial on charges of misusing campaign donations, including more than $3,000 to help pay for her wedding.

Alston, 35, is scheduled to go on trial in the case next month in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. In a separate case, she was convicted in June of stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her private law firm. She is awaiting sentencing.

Alston, a first-time Democratic legislator, has remained in office while the cases work their way through the courts. Under Maryland’s constitution, public officials convicted of such crimes must step down once they are sentenced and a conviction becomes final.

On Thursday, Alston arrived in the Annapolis courtroom in a wheelchair, her foot covered in a bandage and a boot after surgery last week.

The hearing had been scheduled to set a sentencing date for Alston’s theft conviction and for the judge to consider her attorneys’ request for a new trial. But attorneys also addressed the campaign fund case.

Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George's) is seen during a judiciary committee hearing on March 9, 2011, in Annapolis, Md. (Mark Gail/WASHINGTON POST)

State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt asked Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. to meet with him and with Alston’s attorneys in chambers to discuss a “total resolution of this case and the other” and to “short circuit” any outstanding motions.

When they emerged from their private meeting, Davitt said in court, “We have reached an agreement.” But, he said, both sides had agreed to put off finalizing any deal because they said Alston was taking medication related to her surgery.

Alston, who is scheduled to return to court Wednesday, gave mixed signals outside court about whether the proposed resolution is definitive.

“There is no agreement until next week,” she said.

Neither side would discuss the fine print of the agreement nor answer questions about Alston leaving office.

Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.

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