| Crime |

David Rivera's Alleged Patsy Candidate, Justin Sternad, to Be Charged in Federal Court Today UPDATE

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Is the long arm of Johnny Law about to pull the classic yawn-and-then-drape-around-the-shoulders-move on South Florida's shadiest ex-congressman? Maybe. This much is clear: Justin Lamar Sternad, the mysterious candidate who ran against former Rep. David Rivera's opponent in last year's Democratic primary, is set to be charged in federal court today over campaign finance violations.

Rivera's opponent, eventual winner Joe Garcia, has claimed Sternad was funded and organized by Rivera through his longtime friend, GOP operative Ana Alliegro.

Update: Prosecutors have released Sternad's complaint, which doesn't mention Rivera, but notes that "the objective of the conspiracy was: to conceal the true source of the funds which were used by (his) political campaign." 

See also:
-- Rep. David Rivera's Connections to Suspected Ringer Candidate Justin Lamar Sternad Deepen
-- Justin Lamar Sternad Tells FBI That David Rivera Was Behind His Campaign

If Rivera was in fact behind Sternad's efforts to sink Garcia's campaign in the primary, it was a typically clumsy bit of skullduggery from a guy who's been accused of everything from running a truck carrying attack flyers off a highway to accepting thousands from a casino he was fighting for in the legislature.

The feds certainly seem to have a strong case against Sternad. A Miami Beach hotel employee and political newcomer with little fundraising and a personal history of financial troubles, Sternad somehow ran a professional campaign with highly targeted, well-produced attack ads against Garcia.

When the Miami Herald began digging into how he afforded the campaign materials, two campaign vendors told the paper they were often paid in cash, in amounts much larger than appeared on his campaign reports.

Confronted by federal elections officials, Sternad turned in blank forms to the FEC and then pleaded the Fifth. Even fishier, Alliegro -- a longtime Rivera friend who called herself a "GOP bad girl" -- disappeared before the feds could talk to her. She's believed to be hiding abroad, the Herald reports.

Other sources tell the paper that Alliegro called Rivera "the Gangster" but never let Sternad meet the congressman.

Sternad, whose attorney didn't return calls from the Herald, is expected to plead not guilty today. And the feds' indictment apparently doesn't mention Rivera by name.

That's despite the fact Sternad himself supposedly fingered Rivera as the man behind his campaign, at least according to the Herald's sources.

Update: Prosecutors have released Sternad's indictment, which spells out numerous instances where an unnamed co-conspirator gave Sternad cash for his campaign and the candidate failed to report the money. Read the prosecutor's complaint here:

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.