A self-described “Republican political guru and conservative bad girl” with close ties to former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) was in FBI custody in Nicaragua on Friday, following a multi-year, two-country saga connected to a campaign-finance scheme, according to The Miami Herald.
Neighbors of Ana Alliegro’s salon in Nicaragua saw her being taken into custody on Tuesday by Nicaraguan authorities, and the Herald reported that she was being transported back to Miami by the FBI. A law enforcement source told the Herald that Alliegro will be charged with campaign election law violations and other offenses.
The arrest is part of a long-running investigation into the campaign of a onetime congressional candidate in Rivera’s former district. The candidate, a political novice named Justin Lamar Sternad, mounted a primary campaign against Rivera’s eventual successor in Congress, Democrat Joe Garcia. Questions about Sternad’s campaign were raised by the Herald in the summer of 2012, and Sternad ultimately pleaded guilty last year to accepting illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy, and making a false statement on a report to the Federal Election Commission. Earlier this year, Sternad updated his federal campaign finance documents to show that over $80,000 in illegal contributions to his campaign were tied to Rivera “and/or” his close friend and ally Alliegro.
Both Alliegro and Rivera have denied wrongdoing since the story broke, but Alliegro fled the country in September 2012, just before a scheduled meeting with federal prosecutors and the FBI. She then spent time in Nicaragua, where reporters ultimately tracked her down, and where she reportedly was frequently visited by Rivera.