Florida ex-congressional candidate pleads guilty

Justin Sternad faces federal campaign law violations

Published On: Mar 15 2013 06:06:20 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 16 2013 04:13:35 PM EDT
Justin Lamar Sternad
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

A former Florida congressional candidate linked to defeated Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera has pleaded guilty to federal campaign law violations.

The plea was entered Friday in Fort Lauderdale federal court by 35-year-old Justin Lamar Sternad, who ran in last year's Democratic primary in the 26th congressional district.

Sternad admitted accepting thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and concealing their true source. The three counts each carry maximum five-year prison sentences.

Sternad was charged after reports surfaced that Rivera's campaign provided money to Sternad to use in a 2012 Democratic primary against eventual winner Joe Garcia. Garcia went on to defeat Rivera for the House seat.

Rivera has denied involvement but is also the subject of a federal tax investigation.