« April 11, 2013 | Main | April 13, 2013 »

14 posts from April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013

Nicaragua-exiled gal pal of David Rivera: "I am not a fugitive," witness in criminal case "lying"

 @MarcACaputo

One who flees is a fugitive, according to Webster's Dictionary.

But Ana Alliegro, who fled to Nicaragua amid a federal-grand jury investigation for her involvement with a criminal congressional campaign linked to boyfriend David Rivera, has her own definitions of things.

"I am not a fugitive," Alliegro tells Miami New Times in an exclusive interview. "I am tired of being depicted as one."

Alliegro has refused to talk to The Herald ever since we unmasked the criminal campaign of one-time congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, her role in it and then reported her own criminal record. Sternad, used as a proxy to trash Rivera's political opponent Joe Garcia, pleaded guilty to campaign-finance and conspiracy violations. He is cooperating with the feds. He said he was "used."

In The New Times piece, Alliegro suggests she didn't do the using.

Alliegro doesn't shed much light on what she did for the campaign or why, as a Republican, she would help run a Democrat's campaign. She doesn't explain why, as a girlfriend of Rivera, she ran the campaign of Sternad, who theoretically would have faced Rivera had he not lost Aug. 14 to Garcia, who went on to beat Rivera in the general election.

The New Times piece provides more insight into Alliegro's personality and relationship with Rivera (it got a hold of some of her emails and confirmed that Rivera booked a romantic Nicaraguan vacation for the two). Alliegro blames her problems on "liberals" and said she flew to Nicaragua after she was jailed in an unrelated matter.

And Alliegro's no stranger to jail.

As The Herald reported and the New Times notes as well, she was busted for shoplifting and for pulling a gun on her ex-husband after comparing the weapon to her version of a powerful penis. In another sexually charged matter, Alliegro sent racy pictures of herself (two in a nighty and one topless photo of herself in the shower) to a Miami political consultant years ago in the hopes, the consultant tells us, that he'd leak them to blogger and stir up controversy in the hopes of getting clients (yes, we have the pictures).

Alliegro does accuse her ex, Moshe Cosicher, of domestic violence. But Cosicher's daughter told The Miami Herald that Alliegro self-inflicted her injuries -- claiming initially that she was attacked by a raccoon -- and tried to use the wounds and phony domestic-violence claim to blackmail Cosicher into staying married. Prosecutors didn't buy her story and she didn't press charges.

Even Alliegro acknowledges she's "crazy." Now, according to New Times, she's claiming she had a horse-riding head injury that has impaired her memory. What a coincidence. Maybe a raccoon knocked her off the horse.

As for the latest crime that involves her, Alliegro says she's innocent. She said she didn't ferry illegal campaign money to and from Sternad, who has told prosecutors that she did.

Sternad's not the only one. John Borrero, who runs the mail house that Sternad used to send out his campaign fliers, told The Herald and then the FBI that Alliegro delivered stacks of cash and checks for his services.

"Borrero is lying," she tells New Times. "I'm crazy, but I am not stupid."

Alliegro also told New Times she didn't have a central role running Sternad's campaign.

"Let's be clear: I was never Justin's campaign manager," Alliegro said. "He never paid me a dime."

Sternad told us in August that she was his campaign manager. She didn't return our calls on the matter, so when I reached out to her on Twitter, she ducked the question Aug. 14, the day of the District 26 Democratic primary that saw the end of Sternad's campaign.

"ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU CALLED MY VERY PUBLIC TELEPHONE NUMBER? YOU DID NOT AND YOU CALL REACHING OUT VIA TWITTERS," she said. "LOL."

Nothing says reasonable discourse like ALL CAPS evasions.

"I called the number I was given, called your ex and tried this. And you still haven't answered," I responded.

"how about you do your job. Caputo-I am tired and going to sleep. Again, highly unprofessional and wreckless," she wrote back.

And on it went.

In the New Times piece, Alliegro said she's willing to testify and will be back in Miami to renew her passport. She said she's not hiding. "She admits she wanted to lay low," New Times reports.

"I haven't abandoned my country," she 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 what ever questions they ask me."

If that happens, she'll have to give honest answers as well.

Miami wants to undo homeless protection act

The City of Miami, concerned that loitering homeless people are stunting downtown growth, will go to federal court in an attempt to undo major provisions of a historic legal agreement that for 15 years has protected the homeless from undue arrest and harassment by police.

Miami commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to petition the courts to alter a landmark settlement in the 1988 Pottinger v. Miami case, in which 5,000 homeless people and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city, contending that the police practice of sweeping them off the streets and dumping their belongings for loitering, sleeping on sidewalks or other minor offenses was unconstitutional.

The case, settled by consent decree in 1998, led to a significant expansion of public services to the homeless that has been held up as a national model. The settlement also bars Miami police from arresting homeless people for such “involuntary, harmless acts’’ without first offering them an available bed in a shelter.

Under the resolution adopted Thursday, which drew little to no public attention before the commission meeting, the city will hire an outside attorney to ask a federal judge to grant police greater latitude to detain homeless people and seize and dispose of their belongings. The city will also ask the judge to exclude sexual predators from the Pottinger settlement’s protections.

The effort has been spearheaded by the city’s semi-autonomous Downtown Development Authority, which is tasked with helping the city’s downtown businesses grow. Attorney Jay Solowsky, working with the DDA on a pro bono basis, told commissioners that homelessness is “the single most significant issue we are facing downtown.” Marc Sarnoff, chairman of the city commission and the DDA, works in Solowsky’s office.The city move comes as new downtown condos have attracted tens of thousands of residents, with dozens more residential towers now in development.

More from Charles Rabin and Andres Viglucci here.

Enterprise Florida rallies board members to lobby against cuts to economic incentives

The Florida House and Senate have largely rebuffed Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a huge budget increase for economic incentives, which the governor awards to companies to help bring them to Florida. The organization that helps dole out the cash has sounded a red-alert to its members, telling them to lobby the Legislature for the increased budget. 

In his budget, Scott called for nearly $300 million in economic incentives, up from just over $100 million last year. The House and Senate have gone the opposite direction, proposing to decrease Scott’s funding despite a flush budget surplus. They’ve also passed several measures to increase scrutiny on the economic incentives, after high-profile bankruptcies and legal problems of companies that received tax dollars and then went bust. A report by watchdog group Integrity Florida has also increased legislative concern, questioning Enterprise Florida’s award of contracts and incentives to companies that have a seat on the board.

Fred Leonhardt, an Enterprise Florida board member, put his colleagues on alert last week about the potential gutting of the economic incentives budget.

“The elimination of incentive funding will eliminate Florida’s ability to compete in economic development projects,” he wrote in an email to the board.

He also wrote: "EFI will be calling on you in the future to reach out to legislators on this issue if negotiations do not improve the budget outlook. "

His email is below:

Continue reading "Enterprise Florida rallies board members to lobby against cuts to economic incentives" »

Five Things To Know for Friday's Legislative Session

When the Senate’s away, the House will debate. Senators have the day off, but the House will take up several bills on Friday.

 Here are a few things to look out for:

 The House hits the floor for what could be a long session Friday, debating the budget and several other  issues. After the House leadership released an alternative to Medicaid expansion, the budget picture has shifted slightly. Democrats say they will no longer hold a “caucus position” to vote against the budget, but that doesn’t mean they love the plan. The Florida Democratic Party slammed the expansion alternative as “a day later and a dollar short.”

 Other bills on the House agenda include a ban on drones, changes to the alimony law and tuition costs for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

 The Republican Party of Florida will hold its quarterly board meeting in Orlando beginning Friday in Orlando.

 The Revenue Estimating Conference will look at the impact of changing the state’s red light camera laws.

 Gov. Rick Scott will go to Ponte Vedra Beach to present Tim Tebow with the “Great Floridian” award.

-Toluse Olorunnipa (Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau)