New Indictment in San Diego Political Corruption Case

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – A Mexican millionaire who lives in Coronado was federally charged Tuesday with conspiring to give $627,000 in illegal campaign contributions to mayoral and congressional candidates in San Diego.
     The superseding indictment from a federal grand jury accuses Jose Asumo Azano Matsura, 48, two other men and a corporation of conspiring to violate federal election laws, bribing, aiding and abetting and other counts.
     Azano made some of his money by “provid(ing) eavesdropping software and other technology to foreign governments,” according to the indictment.
     Also charged are:
     Ravneet Singh, 41, the president of co-defendant ElectionMall, which provides social media services to political candidates;
     and Marco Polo Cortes, 44, a San Diego-based lobbyist who, according to the indictment, lobbied San Diego Police officials, City Council members, members of their staff and members of the mayor’s staff.
     The defendants are charged with falsifying campaign finance records so Azano could send money to three candidates in Southern California elections.
     It is illegal for foreign nationals to donate to U.S. political campaigns.
     The 19-page indictment does not identify the candidates who allegedly got the money.
     It identifies them only as Candidate 1, who ran for mayor of San Diego in the 2012 primary;
     Candidate 2, who ran for Congress in the 51st Congressional District during the 2012 primary and general elections;
     Candidate 3, who ran for mayor in the 2012 primary and general elections;
     and Candidate 4, who ran for mayor during a 2013 special election. Candidate 4 apparently never received any contributions.
     The Voice of San Diego, an online news site, identified Candidate 1 as San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis; Candidate 2 as Congressman Juan Vargas; and Candidate 3 as former Mayor Bob Filner.
     Also allegedly involved in the conspiracy were Ernesto Encinas, a retired San Diego police detective, and Marc Alan Chase, whose two companies sold “luxury automobiles and other goods,” according to the indictment.
     Encinas and Chase both have been “charged elsewhere,” the indictment states. Also charged elsewhere are Chase’s two companies, South Beach Acquisitions and West Coast Acquisitions.
     Encinas pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to commit crimes against the United States and filing a false tax return, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Chase, co-owner of a La Jolla car dealership, pleaded guilty in March to eight misdemeanors, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting political contributions by a foreign national, and making a straw contribution in a federal campaign.
     The indictments states: “To coordinate between Jose Susumo Azano Matsura and candidates, Ernesto Encinas and Marco Polo Cortes would act as intermediaries, communication with campaign staff and other stakeholders about how Jose Susumo Azano Matsura could lend financial support.
     “Once Jose Susumo Azano Matsura decided to support a candidate, he and his coconspirators would design secret methods of financing that candidate’s campaign.
     “On some occasions, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura would use individuals as conduits, or ‘straw donors,’ for his campaign contributions. Jose Susumo Azano Matsura would provide these straw donors with money up front, or reimburse them later, for donations they made on his behalf.
     “On other occasions, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura would use Marc Chase as a conduit for large amounts of cash. At Jose Susumo Azano Matsura’s direction, Marc Chase would write checks to political party and independent expenditure committees that Jose Susumo Azano Matsura knew would support his candidate of choice.”
     The indictment then lists 24 occasions and dates on which the defendants allegedly gave a total of $627,000 in cash and in-kind donations to candidates.
     Prosecutors seek forfeiture and penalties.
     Azano also is charged with being an alien in possession of a firearm – a Sig Sauer pistol.

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