Mexican tycoon accused in San Diego campaign finance case explains his side

Jose Susumo Azano has pleaded not guilty

SAN DIEGO - For the first time, a Mexican tycoon accused in a campaign finance scandal is laying out his defense.

Jose Susumo Azano is accused of illegally donating a $500,000 to local campaigns -- illegal because he's a foreign national.

Among those receiving money was a PAC supporting the mayoral bid of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

She lost that race, but the association with Azano reared its head on the night she was re-elected as district attorney.

That night, Dumanis declined to talk about it, but she later released a recommendation letter she wrote for Azano's son, saying she wrote it despite never meeting the son.

In a just-filed motion by Azano's attorneys, Azano backs up Dumanis, saying: "Other than meeting Mr. Azano, DA Dumanis had no relationship of any sort with him or his family."

Instead, Azano points the blame towards former San Diego police officer Ernesto Encinas, who was also Azano's former head of security.

In the latest filings, Azano claims Encinas took advantage of him, stating Encinas "told Mr. Azano to help the campaign of a 'friend' running for political office who would help police widows."

What is clear from the new motions is that Azano is pointing a lot of fingers.

His attorneys claim officials at Sempra Energry -- embroiled in a high-stakes land dispute in Mexico with Azano -- sent illegally obtained emails to start a federal probe into Azano.

Later, Azano said federal officials wanted to pin some crime on him, that they asked his personal pilot to become a paid informant, promising a cut of any money seized in the case.

Azano has pleaded not guilty.

Sempra Energy and Encinas' attorney declined comment.

Team 10 reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office but did not get a call back.

Print this article Back to Top