The whispers were true.
Ana Alliegro, the Florida political operative and longtime friend of former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), who disappeared on Sept. 6, the same day that she was reportedly scheduled to meet with federal investigators, has been located — in Nicaragua.Francisco Alvarado, a reporter for The Miami New Times, tracked her down, and filed this story in which we learn that Alliegro has spent the last few months in a lakeside tourist city called Granada, going by the name Ana SolÃ¡ and running a salon called “Salon La Libertad.”
“I am not a fugitive,” Alliegro told the New Times in a phone interview. “I am tired of being depicted as one.”
First, the backstory, for those just tuning in: Alliegro reportedly served as a go-between for Rivera and an out-of-nowhere 2012 Democratic congressional primary candidate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The candidate, Justin Lamar Sternad, pleaded guilty last month to federal charges, including conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and accepting illegal campaign contributions. The Miami Herald has reported that Rivera helped “orchestrate and fund” the efforts to help Sternad, in an attempt to trip up a political rival, Joe Garcia, who eventually won the August Democratic primary and then defeated Rivera in the general election in November. Rivera, who has experience dealing with legal inquiries, has denied any connection with Sternad.
Alliegro’s whereabouts had been a mystery since September. The day before she disappeared, federal agents had raided her Miami, Fla. apartment, taking away a computer and a cellphone, among other items. Now, in her first public comments since the whole story erupted, Alliegro told the New Times she did nothing wrong, and did not skip out on the federal investigators. Apparently searching for analogy, Alliegro brought up the 2008 Adam Sandler movie “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”
“He was a spy for the [Israeli intelligence agency] Mossad,” Alliegro says. “All he wanted was to cut hair like Paul Mitchell and make people feel good. That’s how I feel.”
Alliegro, a self-described “conservative bad girl,” admitted that she took Sternad out to eat at a restaurant in the spring of 2012, but said she suggested he run in a smaller race, like one for a seat on the Palmetto Bay Town Council.
“He insisted on running for Congress,” she said. “I never enticed or induced him, much less handled any money.”
Alliegro said she helped Sternad because he promised to tighten the Cuban embargo. (Alliegro’s father grew up in Cuba. Her grandfather was Senate president in Cuba during the Batista era.) But she claimed to have not served as his campaign manager.
The New Times also obtained emails “which suggest that Rivera went to visit [Alliegro] at least twice in Nicaragua.” Alliegro confirmed the contents of some of the emails, which suggest a very close relationship between her and the former lawmaker.
In January, Alliegro wrote to Rivera that “I waxed two Peace Corps. girls pro bono… They were broke and young. Luv u muah!”
“I freakin’ love it!” Rivera responded. “Everytime I see these pictures I almost want to cry. I’m so very proud of you. You actually know what the hell you are doing. I pray every day that this venture works and your expansion vision comes to fruition. Very exciting. Love you too.”
Alliegro denied that Rivera had visited her, and told the New Times that she remembered sending him emails, but not him responding. And soon, Alliegro said, she will have to return to Miami to renew her American passport.
“I haven’t abandoned my country,” Alliegro said. “I feel my country has abandoned me. But if I have to testify, I will. Make no mistake about it — I will not take the Fifth. I will answer whatever questions they ask me.”
Read the whole thing here.