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 Riveras 70-year-old mother and her business partner, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The involvement of the IRS, and the questions agents have asked, indicate Rivera is the subject of an income-tax evasion inquiry.
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.
The Havenick family, which owns the casino, have also spoken to investigators. A number of other lobbyists and consultants have also been interviewed by state investigators.
Both the FBI and the IRS declined to comment on the case.
Rivera has long denied wrongdoing. Through his campaign, Rivera said in a Thursday email that he has not been contacted by federal investigators, and said that he has never received income from the casino or Millennium Marketing.
The previously undisclosed federal investigation is separate from a state probe of Riveras finances launched by the Miami-Dade State Attorneys Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement last year, shortly before Rivera was elected to Congress. However, state investigators have also examined the dog track payments, sources have told The Herald.
Roberto Martinez, an attorney for Magic City, would not discuss details of either of the investigations.
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