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Attorneys Say Alston Plea Deal Has Fallen Through

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- State prosecutors and defense attorneys for Delegate Tiffany Alston failed to reach a plea agreement as scheduled Wednesday to resolve two separate misconduct cases relating to her use of state money and campaign funds that could lead to her dismissal from office.

Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Paul Harris set a Nov. 5 hearing for arguments relating to a case in which Alston was found guilty in June of misdemeanor theft and misconduct by using $800 in state money to pay an employee in her law office. Her attorneys are contesting the jury's finding.

Alston, a Prince George's County Democrat in her first term, is scheduled for a trial next month on charges she used campaign money to pay wedding expenses.

Last week, attorneys said they had reached a verbal agreement to resolve the two cases, but the details didn't come together for the plea hearing Wednesday afternoon.

J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for Alston, said the question of whether Alston can remain in office is one of the issues attorneys are discussing in a possible plea agreement.

"Certainly, she hopes to remain in office when it's all said and done," Gordon said.

The long period of time in which Maryland public officials can continue to hold office -- even after a jury finds them guilty or they plead guilty -- prompted lawmakers this year to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove an official from office upon a finding of guilt. The constitutional amendment will be on the ballot for voters to decide in November.

Alston faces up to 18 months of incarceration on the theft charge.

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

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