GRANADA, Nicaragua -- In this quaint colonial town, vigilant residents who keep close tabs on their neighbors know the enigmatic woman as Doña Anita, a sometime hairdresser with a mean temper.
They describe her as a night owl prone to cursing, buying Coca-Cola by the case and watching dirty movies so loudly the volume has kept them up at night.
The FBI in Miami knows her as Ana Sol Alliegro, a political consultant and potential key witness in a federal corruption investigation into whether former U.S. Rep. David Rivera had ties to an illegally funded congressional campaign.
In Miami, Alliegro has a reputation as an erratic political operative, a three-time failed candidate who describes herself on Twitter as a “Republican Political Guru and Conservative Bad Girl!”
When she became the center of the investigation last fall into long-time friend Rivera, Alliegro disappeared.
She reappeared in Granada, where she has been living for months and only added to her notoriety.
Neighbors, who say they are so frightened of her they asked not to be identified by name, say she smashed an ex-lover’s car windows and tried to set fire to his windshield after accusing him of sexually assaulting her.
Occasionally, locals have spotted her around town with Rivera, whom townspeople readily identified in photographs shown by a Herald reporter: “Ah, Don David!”
Alliegro, 43, denied it all in an interview last week with The Miami Herald, from the disparaging accounts of her behavior to receiving any visits from Rivera.
“Write what you want to write,” she said.
Alliegro became a subject of federal scrutiny after The Herald and El Nuevo Herald uncovered her role as de facto manager for the law-breaking campaign of congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad.
Sternad, a political newcomer, admitted in February, after he was charged in federal court, that he received $81,486 in illegal contributions — and help from unnamed “co-conspirators” — in his doomed primary campaign against fellow Democrat Joe Garcia, a Rivera rival who later won the general election.
Campaign vendors say Alliegro and Rivera were the conspirators, though both deny it. Sternad is scheduled to be sentenced June 3.
Alliegro decamped to Granada sometime in the fall after The Herald reported that she delivered cash and checks to John Borrero, the owner of the mail house that printed Sternad’s campaign fliers.
In September, the FBI raided her home and seized her computer. Alliegro was scheduled to sit down with federal agents on Sept. 6, but never showed. Prosecutors have obtained a recording made by Alliegro in a car in which she and Rivera discussed Sternad’s campaign.
In Granada, Alliegro insisted last week that she tried to dissuade Sternad from running for Congress and urged him to seek a municipal seat instead. She said she doesn’t remember making any recording of herself and Rivera (“I have no idea or recollection of ever having been with the ex-congressman in a car”) and insisted she did not do Rivera’s bidding in Sternad’s campaign.
“David is my personal friend,” she said. “We’ve never worked together.”
She also denied paying Borrero, the mailer. “Absolutely not,” she said.