David Rivera named by Justin Lamar Sternad in illegal money scandal

02/26/2014 12:11 PM

02/26/2014 7:46 PM

For the first time, a convicted congressional candidate has stated in federal records that former U.S. Rep. David Rivera was a part of the conspiracy to funnel illegal contributions to his campaign.

Justin Lamar Sternad said in three recent Federal Elections Commission filings that a total of $81,486.15 in illegal campaign contributions were coordinated or tied to “Ana Alliegro and/or David Rivera.”

The revelations about the two come almost a year after Sternad’s March 15 guilty plea on counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy and making a false statement on an FEC report.

Sternad’s sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. He is cooperating with federal investigators who are trying to bring charges against Rivera and Alliegro.

“To those who think this case has gone away: You’re wrong,” said Enrique “Rick” Yabor, an attorney for Sternad, who last month amended three of his FEC reports to note the involvement of Alliegro and Rivera in his 2012 Democratic primary race for Congressional District 26, which stretches from from Key West to Calle Ocho in Miami-Dade County.

Neither Alliegro nor Rivera — both of whom have denied involvement in the scheme — could be reached for comment.

Sternad has never publicly mentioned Rivera or Alliegro, but he has privately discussed them at length with federal investigators.

Sternad was busted by the FBI after the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald raised questions about his campaign finances and reports.

During the campaign, Sternad — a political unknown with no experience and little money — was producing and mailing slick flyers that sophisticatedly targeted specific segments of the electorate in the district.

One mailer savaged fellow Democrat Joe Garcia over his divorce, echoing a line of attack espoused by Rivera, who was then the Republican incumbent. Sternad also admitted to using Alliegro as a de facto campaign manager — a strange choice for a Democrat considering her Republican background and close association with Rivera.

As the feds closed in, Alliegro fled to Nicaragua at one point, returned to Miami to talk to investigators last year, and then apparently left again, according to her Facebook page.

If Rivera was involved in the conspiracy, it indicates he wanted to use Sternad as a straw candidate to defeat Garcia in the primary or at least wound him before the 2012 election. It didn’t work. Amid the scandal, Garcia walloped Rivera in the general election.

Sternad amended his elections records once before to say the source of his political contributions was an “unknown contributor.”

However, after months of fully cooperating with the FBI and a federal grand jury, Sternad now names names, listing 11 separate instances when money was steered to him over a period of months.

Sternad amended his campaign reports to reflect information he conveyed during the investigation, sources said, and to give the federal government sworn documents it could use in court.

The alleged conspiracy began as early as May 25, 2012, with a $500 contribution.

“The contribution was given to me, in cash, by a third party from Ana Alliegro. I later discovered that Ana Alliegro was working with David Rivera,” Sternad wrote in an amended report that the FEC posted Jan. 30.

The identity of the “third party” is unclear.

To make sure Sternad was able to get onto the ballot, he said he was also given $5,000 on June 7, 2012.

“These funds were deposited into my bank account by a person unknown to me for the purposes of covering my qualification fee,” he wrote. “The deposit was coordinated by Ana Alliegro and/or David Rivera.”

When it came to the big payments to the mail house and printing companies that handled his mailers, Sternad also names “Ana Alliegro and/or David Rivera.”

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