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Mexican Billionaire Drops Potential Bombshell Against Former DA Dumanis One Day Before His Sentencing

Mexican businessman José Susumo Azano Matsura, right, walks into the federal ...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: Mexican businessman José Susumo Azano Matsura, right, walks into the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego with his former attorney, Michael Wynne, July 27, 2016.


Sentencing Memo

Sentencing Memo

Jose Susumo Azano Matsura's sentencing memo

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A Mexican billionaire convicted of illegally funneling $600,000 to San Diego candidates — including former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis — dropped a potential bombshell Wednesday.

Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, who is due to be sentenced Friday on more than 30 counts including conspiracy to illegally contribute to San Diego campaigns, said he informed Dumanis that he was a foreign national during her 2012 mayoral run.

Azano said in a sentencing memo filed Wednesday that he expressly told Dumanis during a meeting with San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore in March 2012 that he was not a U.S. citizen. After that meeting, Dumanis asked a third person, campaign liaison Ernie Encinas, in front of Azano if the businessman had a green card and Azano, who was present at the time, said he answered no.

Dumanis testified during Azano's trial that she thought he was a U.S. Citizen.

The issue is key because not only is it illegal for a foreign national without a green card to contribute to U.S. campaigns, it is also a violation for a candidate to knowingly accept money from such a donor.

Azano bankrolled $100,000 in social media services performed for Dumanis' mayoral run. Her campaign never recorded the work on disclosure forms. Azano also set up a political action committee through a shell company and contributed $100,000 to it.

Dumanis issued the following statement:

As a 20-year prosecutor and former Judge, I see this as a common Hail Mary tactic from defense attorneys trying to save their clients from the consequences of their actions. After a 5-year case and lengthy trial, Mr. Azano was convicted and is guilty. As I testified under oath, I was never made aware that Mr. Azano was a foreign national. Mr. Azano never gave any money to my campaign or any committee that I controlled. Any suggestion to the contrary ignores the facts of the trial.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Gore also denied Azano's claim of what he said about his immigration status at the March 2012 meeting. Gore said he did not remember Azano saying he was a Mexican national.

“With all the coverage this case has received that would have certainly come out before now," Gore said. "To me it’s clearly an attempt by Azano’s attorney to keep him out of jail or reduce his sentence.”

Azano Says Bonnie Dumanis Knew He Could Not Legally Donate To Her Campaign


Amita Sharma, investigative reporter, KPBS News


A Mexican billionaire convicted of illegally funneling hundreds of thousand of dollars to San Diego candidates said he informed Bonnie Dumanis that he was a foreign national during her 2012 mayoral campaign.


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Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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