The freshman lawmaker filed erroneous reports on his personal finances while in state office, falsely amended those disclosures following critical media reports, and received reimbursements from his campaign and government accounts to cover personal expenses, according to a copy of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report reviewed by Roll Call.
“Analysis of documents obtained to date supports the contention that Mr. Rivera purposely falsified his financial disclosure forms in an attempt to legitimize other source of income beyond his salary as a State Legislator,” the report said.
Despite the evidence, prosecutors said they could not bring criminal charges against Rivera in part because the statute of limitations on such crimes had passed, the Herald reported. The Florida newspaper also reported that the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI are investigating a payment Rivera received from a dog track owned by his mother, though the lawmaker has disputed that claim.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office had asked the state Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Rivera after the Herald published a series of articles on the lawmaker’s finances.
As a state lawmaker, Rivera filed annual disclosures of his personal finances with the Florida Commission on Ethics that showed secondary sources of income unrelated to his legislative salary. After numerous media reports detailed problems with the filings, including phantom and unregistered companies that were listed as sources of income, Rivera amended the disclosures and instead stated that he had received a $132,000 loan from an entity called Millennium Marketing that he had initially listed as a source of income.
“It appears that, Mr. Rivera utilized Millennium Marketing as a ‘pass through’ for at least $132,000 in compensation he received from Southwest Florida Enterprises, a corporation involved in the pari-mutuel industry, specifically, the Flagler Dog Track in Miami, Florida,” the department’s report concluded. “This compensation was related to his involvement in the passage of the citizen referendum for gaming slots in Miami Dade County occurring between 2006 and 2008.”
Though investigators concluded that Rivera’s actions did not “appear to specifically meet the quid pro quo requirements for violating Florida’s Unlawful Compensation law,” the investigation “did identify potential ethical violations” related to his effort to obscure the source of his outside income.
The same loan is listed on the financial disclosure that Rivera filed with the House, which could create an ethics problem for him on the Hill if the liability was mischaracterized.
The department’s report also identified multiple instances in which Rivera used funds from multiple re-election campaigns to pay for personal expenses, including $65,000 in credit card charges for dry cleaning, dental care, entertainment, travel costs for his girlfriend and other expenses over four years.
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