Ana Alliegro, a close friend of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera and the top consultant for a just-convicted former candidate, fled to Nicaragua amid an FBI investigation but said in a new interview with the Miami New Times that she’s innocent.
"I am not a fugitive," Alliegro told Miami New Times. "I am tired of being depicted as one."
Alliegro, who fled Miami after the FBI planned to interview her, nevertheless said she wanted to “lay low” by moving to Nicaragua, where the one-time consultant now runs a beauty salon.
Alliegro has refused to talk to The Miami Herald ever since it unmasked the criminal campaign of one-time congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, her role in it and then her own criminal record.
Sternad was used as a proxy in the Democratic primary to trash Rivera’s political opponent, Joe Garcia. Sternad pleaded guilty March 15 to federal campaign-finance and conspiracy violations.
Sternad is cooperating with federal prosecutors.
“I was taken advantage of and used by others,” Sternad said when he pleaded guilty in federal court.
In The New Times interview, Alliegro suggests she wasn’t one of the unnamed “co-conspirators” listed in Sternad’s federal plea agreement. Rivera, too, has denied wrongdoing.
But one witness said Alliegro played a central role in the crime and that Rivera was involved as well.
John Borrero, who runs the mail house that Sternad used to send out his campaign fliers, told The Herald and then the FBI that Alliegro had delivered stacks of cash and checks for his services.
“Borrero is lying,” she told New Times.
“I’m crazy, but I am not stupid.”
Alliegro also told New Times she didn’t have a central role running Sternad’s campaign.
"Let’s be clear: I was never Justin’s campaign manager," Alliegro said.
"He never paid me a dime."
Sternad, however, told The Herald in August that she was his campaign manager.
She didn’t return calls from The Herald and, when reached via Twitter, on Aug. 14 she refused to say what she did in Sternad’s campaign.
"ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU CALLED MY VERY PUBLIC TELEPHONE NUMBER? YOU DID NOT AND YOU CALL REACHING OUT VIA TWITTERS," she said. "LOL."
In the New Times article, Alliegro didn’t say what she did for Sternad’s campaign or why, as a Republican, she would help run a Democrat’s effort.
Alliegro also didn’t explain why, as a friend of Rivera, she ran the campaign of Sternad, who theoretically would have faced Rivera had he not lost the Aug. 14 primary to Garcia, who went on to beat Rivera in the general election.
The New Times piece provides new insight into Alliegro’s relationship with Rivera (it got ahold of some of her emails and confirmed that Rivera booked a romantic Nicaraguan vacation for the two).
Alliegro blamed her problems on "liberals" and said she fled to Nicaragua after she was jailed in an unrelated matter concerning an outstanding traffic warrant.
It wasn’t the first time she had been in jail.
As The Herald first reported last year and the New Times noted as well, she was charged with shoplifting and for pulling a gun on an ex-husband, Moshe Cosicher, after comparing the weapon to her version of a male sexual organ.
Alliegro accused Cosicher of domestic violence.
But a relative of Cosicher’s told The Miami Herald that the family suspected Alliegro of self-inflicting her injuries — claiming initially that she was attacked by a raccoon — and tried to use the wounds and phony domestic-violence claim to blackmail Cosicher into staying married.
Prosecutors didn’t buy her story and she didn’t press charges.
Alliegro told New Times she had a horse-riding head injury that has impaired her memory.
But Alliegro said she’s willing to testify, if need be, and she’ll be back in Miami to renew her passport. It’s unclear when she planned to return.
"I haven’t abandoned my country," she said.
"I feel my country has abandoned me. But if I have to testify I will. Make no mistake about it: I will not take the Fifth. I will answer whatever questions they ask me."