Former SDPD Detective in Campaign Finance Scandal Heads to Court - NBC 7 San Diego

Former SDPD Detective in Campaign Finance Scandal Heads to Court

Former San Diego Police Department Detective Ernesto Encinas is one of the alleged co-conspirators in a campaign finance scandal involving illegal foreign contributions and local political candidates



    Ex-SDPD Detective Heads to Court

    Former SDPD detective Ernesto Encinas is one of the key players in the campaign finance scandal rocking San Diego politics. Encinas made his initial court appearance on Jan. 23, 2014, where he was asked by a judge to surrender some personal items. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports. (Published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014)

    A former San Diego police detective accused of conspiring to finance local political campaigns using money from an illegal foreign source was ordered to surrender his passport and firearms in federal court Thursday as part of some ground rules for his release.

    According to a complaint filed by the FBI and unsealed by a U.S. magistrate judge Tuesday, former police detective Ernesto Encinas – along with San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes and Ravneet Singh, CEO of – allegedly conspired to funnel more than $500,000 in foreign funds into San Diego political races, mostly in 2012 and 2013.

    The complaint states the men got the cash from a Mexican citizen referred to as “The Foreign National.”

    Read more details of the complaint here

    Is Campaign Finance Scandal Impacting Voters?

    [DGO] Is Campaign Finance Scandal Impacting Voters?
    How much do San Diego voters really care about the campaign finance scandal surrounding local politics? NBC 7's Rory Devine reports on that side of the story, speaking with political strategist Jon Elliot and David Rolland of "San Diego City Beat."
    (Published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014)

    As it stands, it’s illegal for foreign nationals to make contributions to political campaigns. Cortes, Singh and Encinas were all recently arrested for their alleged involvement in the scandal.

    As far as Encinas is concerned, prosecutors allege the former SDPD detective wanted the next mayor of San Diego to fire San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne.

    At Encinas’ first appearance in federal court Thursday, a judge laid out the charges against the former police detective and Encinas formally acknowledged those charges.

    However, Encinas did not enter a plea and was released on his own recognizance, under certain terms. This included surrendering his firearms and passport, as a judge ordered him to remain in the continental United States.

    Standing alongside his attorney, Jeremy Warren, Encinas was quiet in court, only speaking a few times to say, “Yes, Your Honor,” to the federal judge.

    Warren said his client would not be making comments to the media regarding the allegations against him in the campaign finance scandal.

    New Suspect in Campaign Finance Scandal

    [DGO] Marco Polo Cortes Accused in Campaign Finance Scandal
    Another name associated with illegal poltical campaign financing has been released. Marco Polo Cortes is a San Diego based lobbyist who has lobbied San Diego Police Department officials, city council members and mayoral staff. Now he is on the growing list of people involved in this campaign finance scandal.
    (Published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014)

    When asked about why Encinas allegedly wanted Chief Lansdowne fired, Warren had this to say about his client: “I can’t comment on particulars right now. You all understand, someone charged with a crime, it’s an allegation. They’re presumed innocent under the law. Nothing has been proven as of yet.”

    “I think you guys, everyone, will come to the conclusion at the end of the day that Mr. Encinas is a good man who should be judged on the entirety of his career and the benefit of the public,” Warren added, referring to his client’s 31 years of service on the police force.

    A preliminary hearing for Encinas has been set for Feb. 4.

    The investigation into the alleged scandal is ongoing.

    Get the latest from NBC 7 San Diego anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android