Mexican businessman gets prison for illegal contributions to San Diego mayoral candidates

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SAN DIEGO – A Mexican business man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for making illegal contributions to the 2012 mayoral campaigns of former Mayor Bob Filner and former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Jose Susumo Azano Matsura (Courtesy: San Diego Union Tribune)

Jose Susumo Azana Matsura was also fined $560,955, which is the amount of the illegal contributions he made to the two campaigns.

“Elections are to be free and fair devoid of any foreign influence," said Mark Pletcher, Federal Prosecutor.   “This was about the sanctity of our elections here in San Diego the elections are for our citizens here in San Diego."

Azano was found guilty last year of 36 counts, including conspiracy to illegally contribute to San Diego political campaigns. Before sentencing, Azano apologized for his actions.

“Back then, if I knew then what I knew now, I would have never given any money to anyone," he said.  "And even if I become a citizen of the U.S., I will never donate any money to a political campaign again.”

Federal Judge Michael Annelo said he received some 33 letters in support of Azano, but the judge said Azano’s crimes were serious and could not be ignored.  A letter was also sent by former mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio claiming because of Azano's contributions, he lost the election to Filner.  Annelo said given DeMaio's letter was only received yesterday, it was too late and would not be considered. 

John Dadian who is a San Diego Political Commentator and Analyst has been closely watching the case.  He said though the case is closed, it will resonate politically for years to come.

"June 2018 is the next campaign and the campaign that Bonnie Dumanis is running for is going to be very hard fought," said Dadian.  "She and one candidate Nathan Fletcher a lot of animosity they’re not going to just take the gloves off they’re going to have brass knuckles."