Politics

The tale of the tail: David Rivera calls cops on mysterious follower

Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera spoke to reporters in September.
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera spoke to reporters in September. EL NUEVO HERALD

Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera is known in Florida political circles to be a bit... paranoid.

But, as the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

When Rivera left his home in a Miami suburb on Friday and thought somebody was following him, he turned out to be right. He had a shadow.

Here’s what happened, according to accounts pieced together by the Miami Herald.

As he pulled out of his driveway, Rivera spotted a middle-aged man in a white SUV inside his Doral gated community. The SUV followed him out the gate. It was still behind him when Rivera drove to a nearby SunTrust Bank branch.

Alarmed, Rivera lined up someone to witness the tail. The witness was tasked with following the follower.

Rivera drove to a nearby Starbucks. So did the SUV. So did the witness.

Convinced the man in the SUV was after him, Rivera dialed 911 on his way back home. This time, the SUV didn’t go into the gated community. But it did park by a side entrance.

Some of what happened next was recorded on cellphone video by Rivera’s witness — political blogger Elaine de Valle, who wrote her own version of the incident.

Two Doral police patrols showed up. They went up to the man in the SUV — and found out he was Manny Alvarez, a television news photographer from Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4.

False rumors had swirled early Friday — for the third time in recent months — that Rivera, a former Republican congressman and the target of a federal criminal investigation, might get arrested. Eager TV crews spent much of the day in satellite trucks parked outside the federal courthouse downtown and the FBI office in North Miami Beach.

Rivera has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and he remained a free man Friday afternoon.

While police were at Rivera’s house, CBS higher-ups — this time in an SUV with station markings — showed up. Alvarez was given a warning, according to Doral police.

That was not enough for Rivera, who said he wants to press charges for stalking, trespassing and assault.

“Due to death threats I’ve received the last few years, I always remain aware of my surroundings, particularly near my home — which is how I was able to detect this stalker,” Rivera said in a written statement. “Given these threats, I fully intend on pressing criminal charges for stalking, assault and trespassing against the individual involved, as well as pursuing any civil remedies against the individual or his employer.

“According to Florida Statutes, the law does not provide an exemption from these crimes for members of the media.”

The news station declined to comment Friday.

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