San Diego, California - Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura was charged in an indictment unsealed with making an illegal campaign contribution to a San Diego mayoral candidate.
Azano, 48, was arrested by FBI agents at his Coronado home Wednesday morning. He was arraigned in federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin.
Today’s indictment makes it clear that Azano was the foreign national responsible for the $120,000 illegal campaign contribution to a San Diego mayoral candidate referred to in prior court records. According to federal law, it is illegal for a foreign national to donate to political campaigns in the U.S.
Also charged in related cases are San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, former San Diego Police detective Ernesto Encinas and Ravneet Singh, owner of the campaign services company known as ElectionMall Inc., which is also charged as a corporate entity.
According to court documents, Cortes, Singh, and Encinas conspired to funnel more than $500,000 of illegal foreign money into San Diego municipal and federal campaigns, primarily in 2012 and 2013. The source of the illegal foreign money, the court records said, was a person referred to as “the Foreign National.”
The $120,000 sum in the Azano indictment is the same transaction described in a January 21, 2014 complaint that charges Cortes with conspiracy to finance political campaigns using money from an illegal foreign source. That complaint says, “Using money that the Foreign National had given him, the straw donor wrote a $120,000 check from one of his corporation’s bank accounts to an independent expenditure committee that favored Candidate 3.”
The “straw donor” is still identified in court records only as a La Jolla businessman who acted as a conduit for large campaign donations from the Foreign National.
According to a February 18 grand jury indictment charging Cortes, Singh, and his company, ElectionMall Inc., “after directing the Straw Donor to write checks in favor of certain campaigns, the Foreign National would reimburse him.”
That indictment also describes a “war room” created by Singh, Cortes, and another co-conspirator within the campaign offices of an unidentified mayoral candidate, “for the purpose of making unreporterd in-kind contributions financed by the Foreign National.”
The straw donor and candidates are not identified because they have not been charged as members of the conspiracy.
Defendant in Case Number: 14cr388MMA
Jose Susumo Azano Matsura
Summary of Charges
Count one: campaign contribution by a foreign national—Title 2, U.S.C., Sections 437g (d) (1) (A) (i) and 441e (A) (1).
Maximum penalties: Up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service
San Diego Police Department
Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged. All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.