Sikh-American gets 15-month jail for US mayoral election funding scandal
Ravneet Singh was sentenced for his role in funnelling more than $600,000 in illegal foreign campaign contributions from Mexican citizen Jose Susumo Azano Matsura to candidates in the 2012 San Diego mayoral electionUpdated: Sep 04, 2017 14:50 IST
Press Trust of India, New York
A 45-year-old Indian-origin political consultant has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for funnelling illegal foreign campaign contributions in the 2012 San Diego mayoral election.
Ravneet Singh of Illinois and former CEO of ElectionMall Technologies was ordered by US district court judge Michael Anello on Friday to report to prison in October to begin serving his sentence. Singh was sentenced for his role in funnelling more than $600,000 in illegal foreign campaign contributions from Mexican citizen Jose Susumo Azano Matsura to candidates in the 2012 San Diego mayoral election.
In September 2016, after six weeks of trial, a federal jury in San Diego returned guilty verdicts against Singh, Azano and Azano’s son Edward Susumo, who were convicted of felony counts associated with a series of illegal campaign contributions by Azano to the campaigns of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner.
“American elections are not for sale,” said executive US attorney Blair Perez. “We will not allow our sacred electoral process to be compromised. This prison sentence underscores an important message: Anyone who tries to manipulate the American electorate will pay a high price,” Perez said.
According to evidence presented at trial, Azano, Singh, and others conspired to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and in-kind consulting services to the Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner campaigns, despite the fact that Azano’s foreign national status made such contributions illegal.
To conceal his connection to these contributions, Azano arranged with his son Edward Hester and others to funnel this illegal foreign money through corporate and third person “straw donor” contributions.
The conspirators also arranged for at least $267,000 worth of Singh’s in-kind consulting services to be secretly funnelled to the campaigns.
Ultimately, with Azano’s help, Filner won the election, though he was forced to resign shortly thereafter.
For his part, Singh used his specialised skills and knowledge to facilitate the crimes. Evidence at trial demonstrated that Singh used code names for the Dumanis and Filner work that Azano paid for but never for any other domestic candidate for office; harshly reprimanded employees for using those code names in emails; and on one particularly candid occasion referenced the “legal ramifications” of discussing these topics.
Singh further concealed the payments from Azano by structuring the wires from a Mexican company Broadlink controlled by Azano, which had nothing to do with electoral politics, to company Singh controlled, not Election Mall, but eSolutions, which primarily developed software from India.
First Published: Sep 02, 2017 18:30 IST