New Indictment in Campaign Finance Case Adds Gun, Bribery, and Falsification of Records Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 12, 2014|
SAN DIEGO—A federal grand jury issued a new indictment this morning against Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura and alleged co-conspirators Ravneet Singh, his Washington, D.C.-based campaign-services company ElectionMall Inc. and San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, detailing 26 counts of various campaign-finance, falsification of records, bribery, and gun charges.
Besides adding numerous charges, the superseding indictment also brings the defendants into a single case and alleges they were part of a broader conspiracy to illegally and surreptitiously funnel Azano’s money into various political campaigns and committees, including those of three San Diego mayoral candidates and a political party committee supporting federal candidates. The indictment details approximately $600,000 in such illegal donations. According to federal law, it is illegal for a foreign national to donate to political campaigns in the U.S.
The most-recent indictment lists 20 instances in which various defendants allegedly falsified campaign finance records with the San Diego City Clerk, the Federal Election Commission, or the California Secretary of State. Specifically, the indictment lists multiple occasions in which the defendants failed to identify Azano as the true source of campaign donations or concealed the donation altogether.
The new indictment also charges Singh, a social media consultant, and his corporation, ElectionMall Inc., with a single count of bribery. According to the indictment, Singh offered $1,000 to a federal official in exchange for confidential and classified information between December of 2013 and January of 2014.
The superseding indictment also charges that Azano was an alien in possession of a firearm, namely, a black Sig Sauer P225 semi-automatic pistol. Federal law prohibits possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives by an alien who is unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa.
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.
Singh, his corporation, Cortes and retired San Diego Police Detective Ernesto Encinas were first charged in January of 2014 via complaint. Azano, Singh, ElectionMall and Cortes were first indicted in February of 2014.
Ernesto Encinas, a former San Diego police detective and owner of a private security firm, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States and filing a false tax return.
Marc Allen Chase, a co-owner of a La Jolla luxury car dealership, pleaded guilty in March to eight misdemeanor counts of campaign finance crimes, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national and making a “straw” contribution in connection with a federal campaign.
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
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Internal Revenue Service
- San Diego Police Department