Add another strange episode to one of South Florida’s longest running political soap operas:
Ana Alliegro, an ex-con who admitted to breaking campaign-finance laws, told police that former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, the suspected mastermind behind the scheme that landed her in jail two years ago, fell asleep at her home two weeks ago. And when he was asked to leave, she said the ex-congressman and state representative from Miami grabbed her arm and took her cellphone.
She called the cops. When they arrived, Rivera wasn’t there.
“He didn’t beat me up or anything,” she said during a telephone interview Thursday from her Miami home. “It was simple assault.”
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But Rivera, still under the cloud of a federal investigation into his involvement in the 2012 scandal, flatly denies the encounter ever took place. He said he was in Tallahassee when Alliegro claims he stalked her — and that she threatened suicide if he didn’t drive down to Miami to see her.
“After my conversations with state and federal law-enforcement officials, I have no doubt she will be prosecuted for perjury and filing a false police report and sent back to prison for committing a felony while on probation,” Rivera said in an email.
Miami police Det. Kenia Fallat called it an “open and ongoing investigation.” The incident report police released on Thursday came after a Feb. 25 call from Alliegro.
The report names Rivera as a suspect in a domestic dispute. The report doesn’t list the accuser or location of the incident. The crime under investigation: simple battery.
Rivera produced a letter Thursday that he says he wrote to Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle contending that Alliegro should be charged with perjury for filing the report against him.
The couple’s on-again, off-again feud has been a water-cooler staple in South Florida politics for several years.
The brief narrative in the police report has some inconsistencies. Alliegro claimed Rivera called her saying that he was driving down from Tallahassee. When he arrived, the report says, she first told police the door was unlocked and Rivera walked in. Then she changed the story slightly, saying the door was locked, Rivera banged on it and she let him inside. Then they discussed politics. But when Alliegro asked Rivera to leave, he simply went to sleep, the complaint says.
So Alliegro took Rivera’s picture, according to the report — which jolted him awake. He went to his car. Alliegro followed, says the report, and continued taking pictures. That’s when, Alliegro told police, Rivera backed up the vehicle and used his left hand to grab her wrist and take the cellphone.
He eventually returned the phone to her. But by then, Alliegro said, Rivera had erased the pictures.
She was unable to provide the Miami Herald with any pictures she had taken. And her father, who lives on the second floor of the home attached to Alliegro’s apartment, told the Herald he never saw or heard Rivera that morning.
The following day on Feb. 26, Alliegro went before Acting Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Judith Rubenstein and asked for a restraining order against Rivera. In court documents, Alliegro said Rivera “attempted to have sex,” a request Alliegro rejected. She also claimed he and others were stalking her and that she feared for her safety. The request for the restraining order was denied.
Rivera responded to questions from the Herald about the encounter with a lengthy email attacking Alliegro’s credibility, saying he had been at a birthday party in Tallahassee.
“Unfortunately for Crazy Ana, I was in Tallahassee when she says she was supposedly stalked and I have witnesses attesting to that,” Rivera wrote.
Rivera, who lost his 2012 reelection bid, is a good friend of U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. The two served together in the Florida Legislature and co-owned a Tallahassee home. Rivera, despite his continuing legal issues, has shown up recently in the state Capitol and on the campaign trail for Rubio in Iowa.
The disintegration of Rivera and Alliegro’s relationship has played out in public.
In 2014, Alliegro pleaded guilty to breaking campaign-finance laws by orchestrating an elaborate scheme that included running a fake candidate against his rival Joe Garcia in the Democratic primary. The investigation and surrounding theatrics sometimes played out like a reality TV show. Alliegro, who for a time fled to Nicaragua, has claimed they’ve been a couple on-and-off for a decade. Rivera denies they’ve ever been together.
Federal prosecutors in Miami are still debating whether to indict Rivera for collaborating with Alliegro to prop up ringer candidate Justin Lamar Sternad. Like Alliegro, Sternad pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors have not moved forward with the Rivera indictment because they are concerned about mounting a case with Alliegro as the main cooperating witness.
As the presidential election season escalates, Rivera’s close relationship with Rubio might also be weighing as a factor in a final decision on whether to indict Rivera. The Justice Department, historically, has tried to avoid the appearance of meddling in elections.
Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.