Congressional Candidate Pleads Guilty To Violation Of The Federal Election Campaign Act
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant United States Attorney for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today that Justin Lamar Sternad, 35, pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum to violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (Election Act) in connection with the 2012 Democratic Party primary election for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.
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.
Judge Rosenbaum set sentencing for May 31, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. At sentencing, Sternad faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas J. Mulvihill and Richard C. Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.