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

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Marc Alan Chase

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

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California
April 10, 2014

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.

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

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.

Defendant in Case Number 14CR0926-DHB

Marc Alan Chase
Age: 52 Solana
Beach, California

Summary of Charges and Maximum Penalties

Count one: Conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States—18 U.S.C. § 371.

Counts two through five and seven and eight: Contribution by a foreign national—2 U.S.C. §§ 437g(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 441e(a)(1)

Count six: Conduit contribution—2 U.S.C. §§ 437g(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 441f

Maximum penalties for all counts, total: eight years in prison (one year per count), one 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

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