The San Diego city ethics commission has reached a stipulated agreement with La Jolla luxury car dealer Marc Chase to fork over a hefty penalty in the political-money-laundering case involving a Mexican national, GOP district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and fallen Democratic mayor Bob Filner, among others.
"Chase agreed to pay a fine of $80,000 for laundering or facilitating the laundering of campaign funds totaling $156,500 from Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, one of his customers, to various committees supporting mayoral candidates in the 2012 election cycle," says an April 10 news release issued by the commission.
"In particular, Chase solicited contributions from eight of his associates to the Bonnie Dumanis for Mayor 2012 committee, and illegally reimbursed them with cash he had received from Azano.
"In addition, he personally laundered a $120,000 contribution from Azano to the San Diegans in Support of Bob Filner for Mayor 2012 committee, and a $30,000 contribution from Azano to the San Diego County Democratic Party.
"The Commission opened an investigation in this matter in August of 2013, and the staff worked cooperatively with Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Office of the United States Attorney during the course of the investigation.”
Ethics commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst, the release continued, "noted that Ethics Commission fines are paid to the City of San Diego’s General Fund, and the stipulated settlement approved by the Commission resolves all factual and legal issues without the necessity of holding an administrative hearing."
The car dealer has entered a guilty plea in the federal case against Azano, as announced in an April 10 press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego
Chase, the release said, "pleaded guilty today to eight misdemeanor counts of campaign finance crimes, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national and making a conduit or 'straw' contribution in connection with a federal campaign. He faces up to eight years in prison and $800,000 in fines for his conduct.
"At the same hearing, two of Chase’s corporations – South Beach Acquisitions, Inc., and West Coast Acquisitions, Inc. – consented to the filing of felony charges of conspiracy, and entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the government.
"Chase confessed to helping make a series of donations by Azano, a foreign national who by law cannot provide financing to American political campaigns.
"In addition, Chase admitted to facilitating a conduit contribution in connection with a federal campaign — which is illegal even if the source is a citizen. In acknowledging his participation in the conspiracy, Chase admitted that he acted to cover up the illegal activity, ensuring that Azano’s name did not appear in any public record or filing."