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Attorneys: Lawmaker Should Be Reinstated To Office

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland lawmaker removed from office for misconduct will fight to be reinstated, arguing that because her punishment was modified to probation, she is eligible to serve, her attorneys said Tuesday.

Delegate Tiffany Alston, D-Prince George’s, appeared in Anne Arundel County Court Tuesday for her modified sentence for misconduct in office. Judge Paul Harris gave her probation before judgment, because she has completed 300 hours of community service and paid a $500 fine. She also has paid back $800 to the Maryland General Assembly for using state money to pay an employee in her law firm.

Counsel to the Legislature has said Alston was permanently removed from her term after her theft conviction became official. That happened when she received a suspended sentence last month on a charge of misconduct in office relating to the payment to the employee.

However, her attorneys disagree with the counsel’s opinion. They say their client’s conviction was conditional. Now that it has been modified to probation before judgment, they contend she is eligible to be reinstated. Rauof Abdullah, one of Alston’s attorneys, told reporters after court that she was ready to return to her office in Annapolis in a matter of days.

“Ms. Alston intends to resume her duties as soon as possible,” Abdullah said.

House Speaker Michael Busch called it a “trying time” for Alston and the General Assembly.

He said the attorney general told him that as of the date of her sentencing, Alston was removed from office.

“Until all legal issues are resolved, I will follow the Maryland Constitution and the advice of the Office of the Attorney General,” said Busch, D-Anne Arundel.

The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee already has chosen businessman Greg Hall to replace Alston. Gov. Martin O’Malley would need to approve the selection to make it official.

Last month, Alston entered a plea deal to settle two separate criminal cases. In June, a jury found her guilty of paying her employee in a private law firm with state money. She had been scheduled to go on trial on separate charges of using campaign money to pay wedding expenses, but she entered the plea deal last month to settle both cases with the state prosecutor’s office.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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