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Former Rep. Rivera’s Campaign Associate Pleads Guilty

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A woman tied to former Congressman David Rivera has taken a plea deal in federal court.

During a hearing Tuesday, Ana Alliegro pleaded guilty to four campaign finance violations.  She will be sentenced September 10th.

Alliegro, who was a close associate of Rivera,  funneled about $80,000 to an unknown Democratic congressional candidate, Justin Lamar Sternad, who was running in the 2012 primary for the chance to challenge GOP incumbent Rivera in Florida’s 26th congressional district.

Rivera is also now listed as a co-conspirator work for the first time.

CBS’s Cynthia Demos spoke with the candidate who Alliegro and Rivera were allegedly funding.

The allegation is that Alliegro and Rivera, both Republicans, were helping find underdog Democratic primary candidate Justin Lamar Sternad in the hope Democratic candidate Joe Garcia, who eventually won, wouldn’t get the Democratic nod.

“It was a surprise,” Sternad said.

He filed his paperwork in 2011 to get the Democratic nod to run for US Representative when he was approached by Alliegro to help his campaign.

“Her call came, we met, and it was a rush… Here’s someone saying I can get you checks,” Sternad said.

Now Alliegro plead guilty to funneling thousands to Sternad’s primary campaign, plead guilty to illegal campaign contributions, making a false statement and conspiracy to violate the Federal election.

Alliegro had fled to Nicaragua where she was arrested and brought back to the United States and with this David Rivera who has maintained his innocence is now listed as a co-conspirator.

David Weinstein, a former Asst. U.S. Attorney said about Rivera, “it seems inevitable he is next to be on an indictment list”

Weinstein says with Alliegro pleading guilty, she cannot plead the fifth when asked about Rivera.

Weinstein said “if she is given a subpoena she will have to testify.”

So will Sternad who says he’s happy to do so and says he put everything together when one of Rivera’s paystubs was inadvertently in the paperwork given to him by Alliegro.

Demos asked “Is this your first time at politics?” Sternad replied, “Yes.” Demos asked, “Is it your last?” Sternad said, “My wife would like to think it’s my last but I couldn’t comment”

Sternad was sentenced to seven months. Alliegro was facing 5-20 years but will now likely get about two.

Rivera is running for his seat again, his name is on the ballot.

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