Delegate Alston was born in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and grew up in Prince George's County. She attended Seat Pleasant Elementary School, where, as a fifth grader, she was one of 55 students to be promised a full college scholarship upon high school graduation by Abe Pollin, then owner of the Capital Centre, Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals and businessman Melvin Cohen. In high school, she served three out of four years as class president. She was also a cheerleader, member of the International Baccalaureate program and served as editor of the newspaper.
Alston had been a member of House of Delegates since January 12, 2011 and served on the Judiciary committee. She was a member of the Prince George's County Delegation, the Women's Caucus, and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
During the 2011 legislative session, Alston was a co-sponsor of HB 175-Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. A similar bill was filed in the Maryland Senate (SB 116-Civil Marriage Protection Act) and was assigned to the House Judiciary committee, the committee on which Alston serves. During the committee voting session on SB 116, Alston revoked her co-sponsorship and instead offered an amendment to change the bill from same-sex marriage to civil unions. The amendment failed and Alston then voted against the bill. Despite Alston's vote, SB 116 was approved by the committee 12-10 and was forwarded to the full House of Delegates for final approval, but the bill was eventually sent back to committee, effectively terminating the bill for the session.
Alston was indicted in an Anne Arundel County courtroom with embezzlement on September 24, 2011; her charges, laid by the state prosecutor, include one count each of felony and misdemeanor theft, misappropriation by a fiduciary and two election law offenses. She is alleged to have used Maryland General Assembly funds and her election campaign funds to cover her wedding expenses, to pay an employee of her law firm, and for personal use. Alston denied wrongdoing in the case.
Alston was found guilty of misdemeanor theft of General Assembly funds and misconduct in office on June 12, 2012. The conviction carries a jail sentence of up to 18 months. The judge postponed sentencing until after a separate trial, scheduled for October 2012, on the charges regarding Alston's use of her 2010 campaign funds to pay her wedding-related expenses, pay a law firm employee and write a check to herself. On October 9, 2012, Alston entered a plea deal and was given a suspended sentenced of one year in jail, and ordered to pay $800 in restitution to the General Assembly and complete 300 hours of community service. On October 10, 2012, General Assembly Counsel Daniel A. Friedman announced that Alston was suspended from her office without pay or benefits due to a Maryland constitutional provision.
Although prosecutors were unaware of her bankruptcy, they said during her trial that her law firm had bounced dozens of checks. “We portrayed all along that her finances were in a shambles,” said Emmet Davitt, the prosecutor on the case.
In her filing, Alston listed as her personal property the $100 she had in her pocket, $50 she had in a personal checking account at Industrial Bank, a sofa, two beds, four chairs, a television, and a 2005 Saab that had 90,000 miles. She listed her income as $3,597 a month. Her monthly expenses were $5,993.
Her list of debts included $132,137 she owed Sallie Mae for student loans; $20,664 she owed on her car loan; more than $4,400 to the state of Maryland; $3,800 she owed AT&T Mobility, Verizon and Pepco; and $3,500 she owed to a Lanham karate school.
Parker, her former law partner, accused her of charging more than $35,000 in personal expenses to their firm in a complaint filed in 2008 in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Alston, in her response to the complaint that she filed with the court, denied that the charges were personal.
Parker also found that Alston had put $24,496 in charges on the firm’s line of credit at M&T Bank, about $17,000 of which Parker said she had not agreed to, according to the complaint. Parker also learned that the bank account that funded the firm’s day-to-day operations was overdrawn by $5,700.
Parker and Alston dissolved their partnership in December 2007, after which Parker filed the lawsuit.
They settled their dispute in 2009. Alston agreed to pay Parker $20,695, according to court records. Nine months later, Alston declared bankruptcy.