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Mexican businessman convicted in scheme to funnel money into mayoral campaigns

SAN DIEGO -- Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano was convicted Friday of secretly funneling $600,000 through straw donors and independent committees to the 2012 San Diego mayoral campaigns of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner.

A federal jury found Azano guilty on 36 counts, including conspiracy, campaign finance violations, falsification of records and bribery. Sentencing is set for Dec. 12.

Azano's attorney, Michael Wynne, told reporters outside court that he was “very disappointed'' with the verdicts and predicted a “win on appeal,'' even if the case goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Political consultant Ravneet Singh was convicted on four counts. Lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes was acquitted on four counts and a mistrial was declared on three other charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Schopler told jurors that Azano got his son and others to recruit straw donors to contribute to the Dumanis campaign, then Azano reimbursed the donors.

A political consultant testified that he felt pressured by some in the Dumanis mayoral campaign to find a way to put $100,000 of “fishy'' campaign funds to work for Dumanis and her run for mayor.

The consultant, John Wainio, said he rejected an offer to deposit the money from Azano into a political action committee.

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.