An out-of-nowhere 2012 Democratic Congressional candidate with ties to former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) is scheduled to be hit with federal charges on Friday, according to The Miami Herald.
Justin Lamar Sternad has reportedly been under investigation for months. On Friday, Sternad is expected to be charged with lying on federal campaign finance reports, which left out as much $100,000 in services and mailers that benefitted his longshot campaign. The Herald reported that Sternad will also be charged with “conspiring with others as part of the alleged scheme to defraud the United States.” While he is cooperating with authorities, Sternad is expected to plead not guilty.
Sternard, a hotel worker with a history of financial trouble, ran in the Democratic primary last summer, but lost to the eventual general election winner, Joe Garcia, on Aug. 14. (Garcia went on to beat Rivera in November.)
Ana Alliegro, a Republican operative and close friend of Rivera’s, served as Sternard’s campaign manager, and reportedly delivered cash to campaign vendors for the mailers and other services. The Herald began raising questions about Sternad’s campaign finance reports in August. In September, just before she was reportedly scheduled to meet with prosecutors and the FBI, Alliegro disappeared. According to the Herald, her whereabouts are still unclear, though her parents and her lawyer have said they have heard from her.
In October, after he and his attorney conferred with federal prosecutors, Sternad submitted a blank 17-page document as his October quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission, then subsequently sent the agency a letter invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.
“On counsel’s advice, I invoke my rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States not to answer or submit the information requested on FEC Form 3, on the grounds that I may incriminate myself,” Sternad wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 19. “Please refer all additional inquires to my attorney, Rick L. Yabor.”
Rivera has denied any wrongdoing involving Sternad. A source told the Herald that the forthcoming Sternad indictment does not mention Rivera by name.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com