Mexican Multi-Millionaire Charged in San Diego Campaign Finance Scandal

Susumo Azano wanted to buy influence to help build up the San Diego bayfront, prosecutors allege

By Paul Krueger and R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Feb 20, 2014  |  Updated 10:17 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal

Krentz Johnson, Courtroom Artist

advertisement
Photos and Videos

Mayoral Candidates Met with Cortes

NBC 7 talks to mayoral candidate David Alvarez about money his campaign received and meetings he's had with a key player of a major campaign finance scandal. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.

Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal

A La Jolla car dealer implicated in a campaign finance scandal has hired one of San Diego's best-known criminal defense lawyers. NBC 7 has learned that attorney Michael Pancer now represents Marc Chase, owner of Symbolic Motor Cars. Prosecutors say a Mexican citizen pumped more than $500,000 into local campaigns, a violation of U.S. election laws. He also loves fast, expensive cars, which may have cemented his relationship with the car dealer. NBC 7’s Megan Tevrizian has more.
More Photos and Videos

A Mexican businessman and multi-millionaire, accused of helping funnel more than $500,000 into San Diego political campaigns, made his first federal court appearance Thursday.

Jose Susumo Azano, 48, pleaded not guilty one count of illegal contributions by a foreign national.

Susumo Azano was arrested Wednesday morning at his Coronado home, FBI officials confirm. 

The prosecutor asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin not to set bail. In addition to being a flight risk, the prosecutor argued that Susumo Azano is also a danger to other witnesses in the case.

The defense argued that Susumo Azano should be allowed to stay in his Coronado home. The defendant's pilot agreed to give the key to Susumo Azano's private jet to the court so he could not use the jet to flee to U.S.

After hearing both sides, Magistrate Judge Dembin set bail at $5 million. Susumo Azano will be confined to his home with a GPS monitoring device and cannot go to Mexico for any reason. However, the prosecution could appeal the magistrate's decision.

Prosecutors claim Susumo Azano broke federal law by making contributions to U.S. elections using foreign funds, saying this could be "one of the largest (election) frauds in U.S. history."

A federal prosecutor previously said Susumo Azano had hoped that local politicians, including former Mayor Bob Filner, would help him in his quest to build up the San Diego bayfront, at the foot of Broadway.

Susumo Azano is the fourth person charged in the investigation into recent San Diego's mayoral and Congressional campaigns.

Lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas and D.C.-based campaign services executive Ravneet Singh also face charges in connection with the case.

NBC 7 has learned Cortes met with both Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer and City Councilman David Alvarez who ran for mayor within the last three years.

Key Players in the Campaign Finance Scandal

Susumo Azano owns a surveillance software company in Mexico and maintains a villa in Coronado.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Follow us on Instagram!
We post photos taken by our news... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out