A woman who was brought back to South Florida after she fled to Nicaragua as she was being investigated for a campaign finance scheme pleaded not guilty to federal charges in her first court appearance Monday.
Ana Alliegro, 44, wore shackles and a prison outfit during the 1:30 p.m. hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White.
Alliegro did not ask for bond.
”Sometimes there’s positions where it doesn't behoove your client to go forward and make that argument at this time,” said her attorney, Mauricio Padilla.
Alliegro, who was supported by her mother in court, will remain in federal custody until her next court date, which hasn't been set.
Alliegro was arrested in Nicaragua and brought back to South Florida Friday after she was previously indicted for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act in connection with a Democratic primary for Florida's 26th Congressional District, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer and FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro announced last week.
She faces one count of engaging in a conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to violate the contribution limits of the Federal Election Campaign Act, one count of making a false statement, and two counts of making illegal campaign contributions, authorities said.
Alliegro, wearing handcuffs, was escorted into the FBI office in North Miami Friday evening.
She has been in solitary confinement since then because she has not been medically cleared, Padilla said.
“So she's not in good shape, my heart goes out to her, I care for my client, and I care for her family,” he said.
Alliegro is a friend of former congressman David Rivera, a Republican, and was a campaign manager for former Democratic congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, who ran in a 2012 primary against Rivera’s rival Joe Garcia. Garcia defeated Sternad and then Rivera in the general election.
In September 2012 Alliegro failed to appear for an interview with the FBI as authorities probed the congressional race. She fled to Nicaragua as the FBI began investigating her and Rivera for their potential roles in a scheme to secretly funnel money to Sternad’s campaign, the Miami Herald reported.
Sternad pleaded guilty in March 2013 to federal campaign violations, including accepting illegal contributions and filing false reports.
Both Alliegro and Rivera have denied any wrongdoing. Rivera has not made any comment.