Federal investigators have opened a second criminal probe of U.S. Rep. David Rivera, examining undisclosed payments from a Miami gambling enterprise to a company tied to the Republican congressman, The Miami Herald has learned.
Agents with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service have begun interviewing witnesses knowledgeable about a $1 million consulting contract between Flagler Dog Track — now known as Magic City Casino — and Millennium Marketing, a company co-owned by Rivera’s 70-year-old mother and her business partner, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
In the next few weeks, federal agents are scheduled to interview Lori Weems, a lobbyist and lawyer who drafted the consulting contract while representing the Magic City Casino, sources said. Earlier this year, FBI agents also interviewed Esther Nuhfer, a Miami lobbyist and political consultant with close ties to Rivera, sources said.
Members of the Havenick family, who own the Magic City Casino, have cooperated with investigators, who appear to be examining federal tax-evasion charges.
Both the FBI and the IRS declined to comment on the case. It's not so easy getting a comment out of Rivera, who is using a campaign email account to communicate with this disclaimer to our written questions:
"Please note, the statements below are attributable to the Rivera for Congress re-election campaign. If you are unable to accept these statements as such, then consider them unattributable and for background purposes only."
Q. We've been told that the IRS and the FBI have been interviewing witnesses as part of an investigation of your finances, with a focus on the contract with the Flagler Dog track. Has the FBI or IRS contacted you or requested an interview?
A: No. Any insinuation to the contrary is a continuation of the false, misleading and unattributed reporting that has characterized the Herald's coverage thus far.
Q:. Did you pay personal income taxes on any money received from the Flagler Dog Track/Magic City Casino?
A: As stated to you last year by the campaign, Congressman Rivera has never received income from Flagler Dog Track/Magic City Casino.
Q: Did you pay personal income taxes on any money received from Millennium Marketing?
A: As stated to you last year by the campaign, Congressman Rivera has never received income from Millennium Marketing.
Q: Did Millennium Marketing pay any taxes on money received from the Flagler Dog Track/Magic City Casino?
A: Please contact Millennium Marketing for any inquiries related to Millennium Marketing.
Q: We've been told that someone acting on behalf of Millennium Marketing contacted Magic City officials in the past few weeks and requested the remaining $500,000 success fee that had not yet been paid under the Millennium contract. Were you aware of this request? Did you make this request, or direct this request in any way? Can you explain why Millennium decided to ask for that money, and why that money had not been requested over the past 2 1/2 years?
A: Please contact Millennium Marketing and/or Magic City for any inquiries related to Millennium Marketing and/or Magic City.
Q: Have you hired a criminal defense attorney? If so, who is it?