Mexican Billionaire Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Illegal Political Contributions
A Mexican businessman who made nearly $600,000 in illegal contributions to the 2012 San Diego mayoral campaigns of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner was sentenced Friday to three years in federal prison.
Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, who apologized for his actions and pledged to comply with U.S. laws, was immediately remanded into custody.
Azano was convicted last year of 36 counts, including conspiracy, campaign violations and falsifications of records. He was subsequently convicted of illegally possessing a 9mm handgun.
Government attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Michael Anello to sentence Azano to six years in prison, Azano's attorney asked that he be placed on probation.
"Mr. Azano's crime strikes at the heart of what America is," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher. "America's elections are not for sale."
Prosecutors told jurors that Azano got his son and others to recruit straw donors to contribute to the Dumanis campaign, then Azano reimbursed the donors.
As a foreign national, Azano is barred from financial participation in U.S. elections.
Prosecutors said Azano was trying to buy influence in his vision to build a "Miami West" development on the waterfront in San Diego.
Defense attorney Knut Johnson said Azano will probably be deported to Mexico as a result of his convictions.