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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 10, 2014

La Jolla-Based Luxury Car Dealer Pleads Guilty To Campaign Finance Crimes

 

San Diego, CA – Marc Alan Chase, the proprietor of a La Jolla-based luxury car dealership, pleaded guilty today to eight misdemeanor counts of campaign finance crimes, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national and making a conduit or “straw” contribution in connection with a federal campaign. He faces up to eight years in prison and $800,000 in fines for his conduct.

At the same hearing, two of Chase’s corporations – South Beach Acquisitions, Inc., and West Coast Acquisitions, Inc. – consented to the filing of felony charges of conspiracy, and entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the government.

As part of his plea agreement, Chase admitted that he conspired with Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, Ravneet Singh, Ernesto Encinas and Marco Polo Cortes (all of whom were indicted on February 18, 2014) to make several illegal campaign contributions in connection with various campaigns for elective office during the 2012 primary and general election cycles. Chase confessed to helping make a series of donations by Azano, a foreign national who by law cannot provide financing to American political campaigns. In addition, Chase admitted to facilitating a conduit contribution in connection with a federal campaign—which is illegal even if the source is a citizen.

In acknowledging his participation in the conspiracy, Chase admitted that he acted to cover up the illegal activity, ensuring that Azano’s name did not appear in any public record or filing.

In addition, Chase detailed one of the earliest incarnations of the illegal campaign finance scheme, admitting that, in 2011, Azano told him to recruit friends and relatives so that each would make the maximum possible donation to “Candidate 1,” a candidate for the office of mayor of San Diego during the 2012 primary election cycle. After giving Chase this instruction, Azano “caused one of his employees” to hand Chase approximately $10,000 in cash. Chase admitted that, just as Azano had instructed him, he distributed the cash among employees, contractors and acquaintances, asking them to make the maximum allowable donation to Candidate 1. Chase told many of them that he was reimbursing them with Azano’s money.

Also as part of the plea, Chase admitted to making three large contributions totaling $180,000 in September and October 2012. According to the plea agreement, Azano told Chase to make the contributions and promised to provide financing for them. In particular, on October 2, 2012, Azano wrote a $380,000 check to “Symbolic,” which Chase deposited into one of his corporations’ bank accounts. Chase admitted that, as agreed with Azano, $180,000 of this money would be used to make campaign contributions in connection with the campaigns of “Candidate 2,” a candidate for federal office, and “Candidate 3,” who was running for mayor. The remaining $200,000 was used to pay for one Andy Warhol serigraph, depicting dollar signs, which Chase had previously sold to Azano.

Incorporated into Chase’s plea agreement was a chart detailing the transactions in September and October 2012, which is reproduced in an appendix to this news release.

Chase’s sentencing hearing has been set for November 13, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick.

Plea Agreement (click HERE)

Information 14CR0926 (click HERE)

 

DEFENDANT   Case Number:

Marc Alan Chase

Age: 52 Solana Beach, CA
 
CHARGES

Count 1:  Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States – 18 U.S.C. § 371.
 
Count 2-5 and 7-8:  Contribution by a Foreign National – 2 U.S.C. §§ 437g(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 441e(a)(1)

Count 6:  Conduit Contribution – 2 U.S.C. §§ 437g(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 441f
Maximum penalties for all counts, total: 8 years in prison (one year per count), 1 year of supervised release, and $800,000 in fines ($100,000 per count)

 
INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation

San Diego Police Department

*Charging documents, including indictments and informations, are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged.  All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.    

Updated January 4, 2016