For months, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has mulled running for Congress again in 2016. One thing that could weigh on his decision: It looks like he won't be getting charged in a federal criminal investigation into his 2010 campaign.
Prosecutors likely had until early November -- five years from the 2010 election -- to accuse Garcia of any wrongdoing under the statute of limitations. That date came and went without any charges being filed.
"The Force is strong with Joe Garcia," Garcia attorney David O. Markus said in a statement to the Miami Herald that invoked Star Wars. "Justice prevailed."
The office of U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferré declined to comment.
Earlier this year, the feds charged Garcia's campaign manager, Jeffrey Garcia, no relation, with secretly funding a ringer tea-party candidate against Republican David Rivera in the 2010 election. Garcia and the ringer, Jose Rolando "Roly" Arrojo, were sentenced to probation and house arrest in September.
A federal court document filed in the case suggested Jeffrey Garcia had given his boss at least a hint about his illicit plan. He emailed Joe Garcia twice referring to getting a tea partier in the race, and a third time saying "Plan Roli is still moving."
"I am seeking funding," Jeffrey Garcia wrote. "I have till mid-week next week to execute."
Garcia did not respond to any of his campaign manager's emails about recruiting the ringer. If he had, the feds might have charged Garcia as a "co-conspirator," according to legal experts.
Rivera ultimately won the election; Joe Garcia ousted him in 2012. Garcia then lost to another Republican, Carlos Curbelo, in 2014 after Jeffrey Garcia was embroiled in a state criminal case involving unlawful absentee-ballot requests.
A separate federal criminal investigation into a 2012 Democratic ringer candidate tied to Rivera remains stalled.
--with Jay Weaver
This post has been updated to note the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment, rather than did not respond.