Man who conspired to make illegal contributions to 2012 mayoral candidates gets 1 year in prison

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A self-proclaimed “campaign guru,” who was previously convicted and sentenced for conspiring with a Mexican billionaire to make nearly $600,000 in illegal campaign contributions to a pair of 2012 San Diego mayoral candidates, was re-sentenced Monday to one year in federal prison, after an appeals court invalidated one of his convictions.

Ravneet Singh, 48, was convicted in 2016 of conspiring with Jose Susumo Azano and others to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner, despite the fact that Azano’s status as a foreign national made such contributions illegal.

Singh was initially sentenced to 15 months in prison, while Azano received a 36-month sentence, but on appeal, a falsification of campaign records conviction for both men was reversed, necessitating the re-sentencing.

Singh will report to prison Jan. 11 and also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Azano was re-sentenced last year, and received the same 36-month sentence.

Prosecutors said the illegal contributions were concealed by funneling the money through corporate and third person “straw donor” contributions, with an ultimate goal of buying Azano influence over the eventual mayor to support his vision of transforming the city’s bayfront into “Miami West,” a waterfront development project with a yacht marina, a branded five-star hotel and luxury bayside condominiums.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Azano met with Filner and developers about the Miami West project just four days after Filner’s inauguration.

Singh’s role involved helping Azano conceal the payments and assisting the campaigns with social media services through his consulting company, ElectionMall Technologies, with the work paid for by Azano.

In addition to Azano and Singh, various others were convicted for campaign-fraud related offenses, including Azano’s son Edward Hester, local car dealer Marc Chase, Chase’s company South Beach acquisitions, consultant Marco Polo Cortes, and former police detective Ernesto Encinas.

“Public corruption and campaign finance fraud undermines the strength and confidence in our system of government which is why these cases have always been a top criminal priority for the FBI,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “The American people can count on the FBI to continue to expose those, like Azano and Singh, who attempt to illegally influence American political processes and bring them to justice.”

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