As fellow lawmakers convened Thursday in Tallahassee for the annual session, state Rep. Richard L. Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, returned home to be with his family in the wake of a federal probe into possible stalking.
Steinberg on Wednesday admitted to the Miami Herald in a statement that he sent dozens of "inappropriate and unsolicited" text messages to a married female federal prosecutor last year.
The victim, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos, complained to the U.S. Secret Service, which traced the anonymous messages back to Steinberg's home and phone.
He is now under investigation on potential stalking charges, a probe first reported by the Miami Herald. It is not clear whether investigators had found evidence of inappropriate messages to other women.
Steinberg's spokesman, Christian Ulvert, could not say when Steinberg planned to return to Tallahassee but said his "No. 1 priority was discussing and talking through the situation with his family and with his wife."
The messages were sent from a Yahoo! account with the screen name "itsjustme24680."
Over months, Fernandez-Karavetsos told investigators, the texter sent suggestive messages, calling her "sexxxy mama" and asking about her infant son. Fernandez-Karavetsos, who knew Steinberg through professional services, repeatedly asked the person to stop and identify himself.
"Considering we're both married parents, probably best I not answer that at this point," the texter wrote back.
Fernandez-Karavetsos, 37, is married to George Karavetsos, also a federal prosecutor and chief of the Miami U.S. attorney's narcotics section. Steinberg, 39, married his wife, Mickey Ross Steinberg, in 2008. They have one child.
"I acknowledge and take full responsibility for sending inappropriate and unsolicited messages to Mrs. Marlene Fernandez-Karvetsos, whom I have known for more than 15 years. I deeply regret and wholeheartedly apologize for the disrespect that I have shown her, her husband and my constituents," Steinberg said Wednesday through a spokesman.
"Most importantly, words cannot express how sorry I am to my wife, for the disrespect I have shown her, and my entire family."
Voters elected Steinberg, a Democrat, to the House in 2008 after he spent seven years as a commissioner in Miami Beach. He is the son of former Florida State Sen. Paul B. Steinberg.