San Diego businessman and Mexican national Jose Susumo Azano Matsura was indicted in February on charges relating to campaign contribution fraud, but just this week charges of alien in possession of a firearm and falsification of records were added to the list.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation release outlines ties between Azano and alleged co-conspirators Ravneet Singh, Singh’s campaign services company ElectionMall Inc., and San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes. Charges amongst them total 26 and include campaign finance, bribery, falsification of records, and illegal gun possession offenses.
In February, Azano was charged with making an illegal campaign contribution to a San Diego mayoral candidate; however, the new action not only combines Azano’s case with the alleged co-conspirators but now references funneling money to many candidates.
Previous reports stated it was clear that Azano was behind $120,000 funneled to one mayoral candidate, an illegal action due to Azano’s foreign national status. New reports allege approximately $600,000 in illegal contributions between three San Diego mayoral candidates as well as a political party committee supporting federal candidates.
The FBI also reports one charge of bribery relating to Singh and ElectionMall Inc., which carries a maximum penalty of a $250,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. The indictment outlines an exchange between Singh and a federal official in which $1,000 was allegedly offered for confidential and classified information.
One count of alien in possession of a firearm has been levied against Azano. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The firearm in question is described as a black Sig Sauer P225 semi-automatic pistol.
An FBI statement describes new information in the case:
Among other things, the new indictment alleges that members of the conspiracy would survey candidates for various elective offices to determine which ones to support. Azano would seek a private meeting with a candidate and conspirators would then design secret methods of financing that candidate’s campaign. They would use various methods to inject the cash into campaigns–including straw donors and unreported in-kind donations. Azano would also use companies and an independent expenditure committee of his own creation to support favored candidates, the indictment alleges.
Two other men pled guilty to related charges in March. Former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas admitted to conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States and filing a false tax return. Luxury car dealership co-owner Marc Allen Chase admitted to eight counts of misdemeanor campaign finance crimes including “conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national and making a ‘straw’ contribution in connection with a federal campaign.”
Investigating agencies in the case included the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, and San Diego Police Department. The following are the defendants and a list of select charges levied against them, according to the FBI release:
Case Number: 14cr388MMA
Jose Susumo Azano Matsura Age: 48 Coronado, CA
Ravneet Singh Age: 41 Washington, D.C.
ElectionMall Inc. Washington, D.C.
Marco Polo Cortes Age: 44 San Diego, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Count 1: Conspiracy to Commit Offenses Against the United States–Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371. Maximum Penalties: Up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine All Defendants
Count 2: Conspiracy to Commit Offenses Against the United States–Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 371. Maximum Penalties: Up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine Azano and Cortes only
Count 3: Donation and Contribution by a Foreign National Aggregating $25,000 or more–Title 2, U.S.C., Secs. 437g (d) (1) (A) (i) and 441e (A) (1). Maximum Penalties: Up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine All Defendants
Count 4: Contribution in the Name of Another Aggregating $25,000 or more–Title 2, U.S.C., Secs. 437g(d) (1) (A) (i) and 441f. Maximum Penalties: Up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine Azano and Cortes only
Counts 5-24: Falsification of Records–Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1519. Maximum Penalties: Up to 20 years in prison per count and $250,000 fine per count. All defendants charged with one or more counts
Count 25: Bribery–Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 201(b). Maximum Penalties: Up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine Singh and ElectionMall Inc. only
Count 26: Alien in Possession of a Firearm–Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 922 (g) (5) (B). Maximum Penalties: Up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine Azano only