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Former delegate Alston consents to disbarment

Former Del. Tiffany T. Alston, who was ousted from the House of Delegates last year after being convicted of theft and misconduct in office, was disbarred by consent by Maryland’s top court Thursday amid allegations of ethical lapses unrelated to the criminal conviction.

Alston’s alleged violations of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct included lack of competence and diligence by failing to respond to a client’s efforts to speak with her, to follow through on a court filing, to preserve a client’s right to compensation from his ex-wife’s 401K account and to respond to investigative questions from bar counsel, who brought the allegations.

Maryland’s top court had already suspended Alston indefinitely from the practice of law last year for lack of competence and diligence with other clients.

The Court of Appeals was expecting the Joint Petition for Disbarment by Consent, according to Thursday’s order.  Alston’s attorney, Raouf M. Abdullah, told the court on April 8 that she intended to consent to disbarment.

In the order, the Court of Appeals ordered Alston to pay a total of $7,750 to three former clients and $177.50 to the Attorney Grievance Commission.

Alston, D-Prince George’s, was removed from the General Assembly by operation of law upon her Oct. 9 sentencing for misdemeanor theft and misconduct in office. Alston, who was elected to the House in 2010, had been found guilty last June of having used state money to pay an employee in her law firm by misrepresenting the worker as a member of her legislative staff.

At the sentencing, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. said he would give Alston probation before judgment if she completed 300 hours or community service and paid $800 in restitution. On Nov. 13, Harris said Alston completed those conditions.

Alston, 36, challenged her ouster from the legislature all the way to the Court of Appeals. But the high court ruled against her on Jan. 4, just five days before the 2013 General Assembly session began.

Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed Darren Swain to the vacant seat.