Rep. Stein­berg re­signs Mi­ami Beach seat over tex­ting scan­dal

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - LOCAL - By Marc Ca­puto and David Ovalle

Un­der Se­cret Ser­vice in­ves­ti­ga­tion for send­ing stalker-like texts to a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, Demo­cratic state Rep. Richard Stein­berg on Fri­day abruptly re­signed his Mi­ami Beach seat.

“The events of the past week have been dif­fi­cult formy fam­ily, for me and for ev­ery­one in­volved,” Stein­berg, 39, said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Af­ter much con­sul­ta­tion my fam­ily, my friends and my col­leagues in the Demo­cratic cau­cus — and af­ter some time for quiet, per­sonal re­flec­tion — I have de­cided to re­sign, ef­fec­tive to­day, from my po­si­tion as a mem­ber of Florida’s house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “

Stein­berg’s res­ig­na­tion came just as the re­pub­li­can party of Florida was plan­ning to call for his ouster. “He should have the de­cency to re­sign from of­fice,” RPOF spokesman Brian Hughes said at the same time Stein­berg was draft­ing his writ­ten state­ment.

The decision was a re­lief for his fel­low House Democrats, who al­ready com­mand less than a third of their cham­ber and could ill-af­ford such a high-pro­file dis­trac­tion.

Through­out the sum­mer, Stein­berg used a dis­guised Ya­hoo! ac­count with the screen name “its just me 24680” to send text mes with sages to As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Mar­lene Fer­nan­dez-kar­avet­sos.

Over months, Fer­nan­dez-kar­avet­sos told in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the tex­ter sent sug­ges­tive mes­sages, call­ing her “sexxxy mama” and ask­ing about her in­fant son.

Fer­nan­dez-kar­avet­sos, who knew Stein­berg through pro­fes­sional ser­vices, re­peat­edly asked the per­son to stop and iden­tify him­self.

“Con­sid­er­ing we’re both mar­ried par­ents, prob­a­bly best I not an­swer that at this point,” the tex­ter, Stein­berg, wrote back.

Fer­nan­dez-kar­avet­sos, 37, is mar­ried to Ge­orge Kar­avet­sos, also a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor and chief of the Mi­ami U.S. at­tor­ney’s nar­cotics sec­tion. Stein­berg, 39, mar­ried his wife, Mick­y­ross Stein­berg, in 2008. They have one child.

Fi­nally, she com­plained to the u.s. Se­cret Ser­vice, which traced the anony­mous mes­sages back to Stein­berg’s home and phone. Se­cret Ser­vice is only in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case be­cause it in­volves a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor. If any charges are brought, they would be filed in state court.

Stein­berg is a for­mer Mi­ami Beach com­mis­sioner whose fa­ther, Paul Stein­berg, was a state se­na­tor from 1972 to 1982. Stein­berg was elected to the Leg­is­la­ture in 2007.

In 2001, at the age of 28, Stein­berg be­came the sec­ond-youngest to be elected to the Mi­ami Beach com­mis­sion. He later be­came the city’s youngest vice mayor.

A re­view of vot­ing records since Stein­berg’s 2009 fresh­man ses­sion in Tallahassee shows that he cast at least five votes to in­crease penal­ties on stalk­ers and sex­ual preda­tors who use tex­ting or elec­tronic me­dia dur­ing their crimes.

Last week, Stein­berg cast a com­mit­tee vote for Hb 1099-stalk­ing, which ex­pands the def­i­ni­tion of ‘ag­gra­vated stalk­ing’ to in­clude threats (and im­plied threats) made via elec­tronic mes­sages (e.g., texts, emails).

The bill also ex­pands the def­i­ni­tion of “threat” to in­clude any ac­tiv­ity that “places an­other per­son in rea­son­able fear for his or her safety or safety of his or her fam­ily mem­bers.”

Stein­berg

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