MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The sordid campaign finance scandal involving convicted congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad and U.S. Rep. David Rivera has taken a major twist.
According to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, Sternad has stated in federal records, for the first time, that Rivera was a part of the conspiracy to funnel illegal contributions to his campaign.
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.”
Alliegro was Sternad’s campaign manager and close friend of Rivera.
The revelations about the two come nearly 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’s 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,” Enrique “Rick” Yabor, a lawyer for Sternad told the Herald. Yabor amended three of his FEC reports to note the involvement of Alliegro and Rivera in his 2012 Democratic primary race for Congressional District 26 just last month.
Neither Alliegro nor Rivera, both of whom have denied involvement in the scam, could be reached.
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 identified discrepancies in Sternad’s campaign finance reports during the primary stage of the 2012 election season.
The newspapers’ coverage alleged Sternad, a political unknown with no experience and little money, was producing and mailing slick flyers attacking Sternad’s primary opponent Joe Garcia, and the flyers were reportedly financed by Rivera.
Sternad also admitted to using Alliegro as a de facto campaign manager despite the fact that she had close ties to Rivera.
Sternad was eventually indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and concealing the source of unreported campaign funds.
No charges were ever filed against Rivera. According to the Miami Herald, it’s because Ana Alliegro left town when she was supposed to meet with the FBI in September 2012 to explain eyewitness accounts alleging she funneled cash from Rivera to Sternad’s campaign.
Garcia ultimately defeated Rivera in the general election on November 6, 2012 and won the congressional seat.
The Herald now reports Sternad amended his elections records once before to say the source of his political contributions were from 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.
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 on 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.”