The Florida Republican has kept a low profile since leaving office last year after a single, scandal-plagued term in Congress. But the federal investigation into his 2012 campaign activities is still active, and investigators appear to have finally convinced a key figure in the case to play ball.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Justin Lamar Sternad, a onetime congressional candidate in Rivera's former district, has 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 Ana Alliegro. Sternad pleaded guilty last year to accepting illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy, and making a false statement on a report to the Federal Election Commission. It has long been assumed that Rivera and Alliegro were involved in getting Sternad -- who had no prior political experience -- to mount a primary campaign against Rivera's Democratic opponent Joe Garcia.
Sternad had never publicly pointed a finger at Rivera or Alliegro before, though he had acknowledged that Alliegro had acted as a kind of campaign manager. According to the Herald, Sternad's updated documents indicate that 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 the amended document.
Rivera and Alliegro have previously denied involvement in the scheme. Sternad's sentencing has been repeatedly delayed, according to the Herald, while his cooperation with investigators is ongoing.