A billionaire businessman from Mexico was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for attempting to influence the 2012 San Diego mayoral campaign by making nearly $600,000 in illegal political contributions to two candidates.
Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, 52, of Guadalajara, Mexico, was also ordered to pay a $560,955 fine.
Azano was convicted of 36 charges including conspiracy, campaign finance violations, falsification of records and bribery. He was also convicted of illegally possessing a semi-automatic 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun with a laser scope, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
U.S. District Judge Michael M. Anello ordered Azano be immediately taken into custody Friday.
Azano, along with political consultant Ravneet Singh and others conspired to funnel thousands of dollars of cash to campaigns for Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner, according to evidence presented at the trail.
In return, Azano wanted support for his development project called "Maimi-West" at the San Diego waterfront. The project proposed to put a yacht marina, a branded five-star hotel, and luxury bayside condominiums.
According to federal law, it is illegal for a foreign national to donate to political campaigns in the U.S.
Singh, 45, a political consultant and former CEO of ElectionMall Technologies was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Aug. 31 and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
"Jose Susumo Azano Matsura attempted to manipulate our electoral system and undercut our representative democracy. Our democracy is contingent upon a righteous electoral process and this case is evidence of the FBI’s steadfast commitment to upholding the strength and confidence in our system of government for the citizens of San Diego," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum.
Azano's defense attorney, Knut Johnson, said he will file a motion to get his client out on bail pending an appeal.
"It's always a little painful when a client gets convicted and sentenced but it is part of the process and there will be an appeal and we will get to the end of it eventually," Johnson told NBC 7.
Azano's son Edward Susumo Azano Hester, 25, of San Diego, was also convicted of felony charges associated with the series of illegal campaign contributions. He was sentenced to a 12-month term of probation.