As San Diego's latest money-laundering scandal continues to unwind, an initial spotlight has been drawn to Marc Chase, who lists himself as owner of Symbolic Motor Car Co. in La Jolla, a go-to luxury-car dealership for an array of sports stars, including Chargers players, as well as wealthy real-estate developers and venture capitalists.
Not getting as much attention has been Marc Chase’s brother Bernard, a Symbolic employee who is also a player in San Diego's increasingly byzantine world of big-money politics.
Marc has been fingered in published accounts as a so-called straw man in a six-figure donation to the cause of ex-mayor Bob Filner, first reported here in October 2012.
Bernard Chase is on a list of Symbolic employees who from December 29, 2011, to January 2, 2012, gave a total of $9000 to the 2012 mayoral campaign of district attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Bernard, whose occupation at the dealership is listed as "sales" on the Dumanis report, made a total $1000 contribution on December 11, 2011, the filing says.
In 1999, the brothers were written up in Forbes.
Symbolic Motor Car was launched 14 years ago by Bernie and Marc Chase, a pair of high-strung brothers from Los Angeles afflicted with Southland car culture to the point of neurosis.
One by one they bought and sold increasingly more exotic cars — Symbolic owns all of its stock and does not sell on consignment — until eventually their remarkable savvy made them the largest dealer of collectible and performance cars in the world.
Steve McQueen’s Ferrari 275, Elvis Presley’s BMW 507, Sophia Loren’s Rolls-Royce: Sooner or later the most exotic cars have ended up with the Chase brothers.
Last week, U-T San Diego quoted San Diego hotel mogul Bill Evans regarding Marc Chase and his brother.
“He’s a standup guy and has been in a very tough business over the last five or six years,” said Evans, of Evans Hotels, which owns the Bahia, Catamaran and The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
“He and his brother made the Ferrari market what it is today.
“He’s in a business filled with horror stories and from what I know, his has been a fairy tale, not a horror story.”
There is more to the Bernard Chase story, according to federal court records that chronicle a 14-year cocaine possession and firearms case against him beginning in the early 1980s.
They show that on March 18,1981, Chase was charged by prosecutors with "Distribution of Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (Cocaine)" as well as a firearms offense.
He ultimately received a three-year prison sentence along with a total fine of $25,000, according to the records. A superseding indictment was entered in the case on August 21, 1995. Details of that were not immediately available.
On the same day of the 1995 indictment, the records note: "Satisfaction of Judgment as to defendant Bernard Hugh Chase" and "the [judgment] entered in this case on 12/22/82, has been paid in full."
A woman who answered the phone at Symbolic said Bernard Chase was in London and not immediately available for comment.