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Florida briefs: Bail denied for Rivera associate

MIAMI

Campaign violation suspect's bail denied

A federal judge denied bail Friday for an associate of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera in a campaign finance violations case after a prosecutor said the associate used some passport trickery to flee to Nicaragua in the middle of the investigation.

Ana Alliegro was asked by the FBI following two days of interviews in October 2013 to surrender her U.S. passport, and she gave them one, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill at a hearing. But that document turned out to be a one-year temporary passport Alliegro got after claiming she had lost her permanent one. "The next thing we know, she's back in Nicaragua," Mulvihill said. "She's clearly a flight risk."

In addition, Mulvihill said Alliegro and an unnamed individual — Rivera's name never came up during the hearing — flew first to Texas, then took a bus to Mexico to catch a flight to Nicaragua. There Alliegro remained until she was arrested in early March by the Nicaraguans and turned over to U.S. authorities.

That was enough for U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes, who noted that Alliegro had previously gone to Nicaragua after agreeing to voluntary talk with the FBI but failing to show up.

Alliegro, 44, is charged with funneling over $80,000 — much of it in cash — to the 2012 Democratic primary campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad, a previously unknown candidate with scant financial resources who pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations. Sternad is cooperating with prosecutors.

Times wires

Miami

Driver guilty in crash that killed 3 people

A South Florida man faces up to 75 years in prison after being convicted of killing three people in car crash. A Miami-Dade County jury convicted 22-year-old Alberto de Jesus Coteron Oliva of vehicular homicide Friday. His sentencing date has not been set. Authorities say Coteron was hanging out with 17-year-old Veronica Santiago, 15-year-old Isis Maciel Jimenez and 17-year-old Daniel Cardenas in August 2011 at the Dolphin Mall in Doral when the group decided to go for a ride. At some point that night, Coteron tried to race his 1994 Honda Civic against a black Infiniti. Prosecutors say Coteron was driving around 80 mph before losing control and hitting a light post. The Miami Herald reports that the crash split the car in two.

Defense attorneys argued that Coteron was never going that fast and that another car bumped him off the road.

PENSACOLA

Drug evidence thefts jeopardize cases

Florida prosecutors will drop some drug cases and more closely scrutinize drug evidence after a former state crime lab analyst was accused of stealing narcotics from evidence bags, replacing them with over-the-counter medicine.

State attorneys throughout Florida said it remains unclear how many cases will be dropped because of Joseph Graves' alleged thefts. Evidence seized by 80 law enforcement agencies in 35 of Florida's 67 counties may have been compromised.

"This has created a very difficult burden on our entire office. A very significant amount of manpower has been devoted to this," said State Attorney Bill Eddins, who said investigators have reviewed more than 2,600 cases Graves handled since 2006 and have found 53 in Eddins' district where drug evidence appears to have been compromised.

Times wires

Florida briefs: Bail denied for Rivera associate 04/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 9:43pm]
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