Lobbyist in Scandal Makes Bail; Car Dealer Releases Statement

By Christina London, Wendy Fry and Paul Krueger
|  Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014  |  Updated 9:56 PM PDT
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Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal

Marco Polo Cortes was released from federal jail on bond.

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Mayoral Candidates Met with Cortes

NBC 7 talks to mayoral candidate David Alvarez about money his campaign received and meetings he's had with a key player of a major campaign finance scandal. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.

Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal

A La Jolla car dealer implicated in a campaign finance scandal has hired one of San Diego's best-known criminal defense lawyers. NBC 7 has learned that attorney Michael Pancer now represents Marc Chase, owner of Symbolic Motor Cars. Prosecutors say a Mexican citizen pumped more than $500,000 into local campaigns, a violation of U.S. election laws. He also loves fast, expensive cars, which may have cemented his relationship with the car dealer. NBC 7’s Megan Tevrizian has more.
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On Tuesday, a judge ruled that a lobbyist at the center of a campaign finance scandal could be released from federal jail.

Marco Polo Cortes, 44, was held over the weekend after refusing to surrender to federal agents at his Little Italy apartment.

Cortes’ sister put up her house as collateral so he could post the $100,000 bond. The judge ordered that Cortes must stay in Southern California and cannot travel to Mexico.

A preliminary hearing for Cortes is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Key Players in the Campaign Finance Scandal

Also on Tuesday, the Symbolic Motor Car Company released the first detailed statement on behalf of Marc Chase, who is also implicated in the scandal:

Mr. Chase and the Symbolic Motors Team would like to thank all of those who have reached out with their kind words in the past few days. We would like to thank all of our friends for your continued support. Mr. Chase and Symbolic Motors cannot comment on the current investigation that has been reported in the press but will do so at the appropriate time.

The statement goes on to talk about Chase’s business successes and philanthropic work.

Read the full statement here.

Prosecutors say a billionaire Mexican businessman, identified as Jose Susumo Azano, funneled more than $500,000 into local campaigns. It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to U.S. elections.

Neither Susumo nor Chase has been charged in this case, but three others, including Cortes and former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas, have been.

Those criminal complaints indicate that Chase acted as a “Straw Donor” by funneling at least $180,000 of Susumo Azano’s money into independent campaigns benefiting mayoral candidate Bob Filner and congressional candidate Juan Vargas.

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