Former Congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad pleaded guilty today in Miami to violating the Federal Election Campaign Act during his 2012 campaign, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.
Sternad, 35, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum in the Southern District of Florida. Sternad pleaded guilty to all counts of a criminal information that charged him with one count of conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), one count of making false statements to the FEC and one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions.
Sternad was a candidate in the 2012 Democratic Party primary election for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. According to court documents, Sternad engaged in a conspiracy to accept illegal campaign contributions and file false statements with the FEC in order to conceal the true source, amount and nature of the funds used by his campaign.
Sternad admitted that his campaign accepted cash and checks in excess of Federal Election Campaign Act limits and that he filed statements that intentionally misled the FEC about his campaign’s activities. During the campaign, illegal cash contributions from co-conspirators were used to pay for a rental car and the design, printing and distribution of campaign flyers.
According to court documents, Sternad reported to the FEC that he made loans to his campaign in the amount of $63,801, when he knew that he had actually loaned fewer than $300. In total, Sternad accepted over $70,000 in misreported campaign contributions.
At sentencing, scheduled for May 31, 2013, Sternad faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas J. Mulvihill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Richard C. Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.