Il­le­gal po­lit­i­cal pay­ments

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AN IN­DIAN ori­gin po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant in the US was sen­tenced to 15 months in pri­son for his role in fun­nelling il­le­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to can­di­dates in San Diego’s 2012 may­oral race.

Ravneet Singh, former Elec­tionMall Tech­nolo­gies chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, pic­tured, was sen­tenced in Cal­i­for­nia and or­dered to pay a $10 000 fine on charges that he helped laun­der money from a wealthy Mex­i­can ci­ti­zen try­ing to gain po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence in San Diego, fed­eral prose­cu­tors said.

Singh, 45, of Naperville, Illi­nois, was or­dered to re­port to pri­son on Oc­to­ber 12, the Chicago Tri­bune re­ported. By law, for­eign cit­i­zens are not al­lowed to con­trib­ute to US po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

“Amer­i­can elec­tions are not for sale,” Ex­ec­u­tive US At­tor­ney, Blair Perez said.

“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.”

Last year, a jury con­victed Singh, Mex­i­can ci­ti­zen Jose Susumo Azano Mat­sura and Mat­sura’s son Ed­ward Susumo on felony counts in­volv­ing il­le­gal con­tri­bu­tions to the may­oral cam­paigns of then-District At­tor­ney, Bon­nie Du­ma­nis and Bob Fil­ner.

Mat­sura was seek­ing to buy po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, in­clud­ing support for a San Diego water­front de­vel­op­ment that would have in­cluded a yacht ma­rina, ho­tel and lux­ury con­do­mini­ums, au­thor­i­ties said. Fil­ner even­tu­ally was elected mayor but later re­signed un­der a cloud of sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims. Nei­ther can­di­date was charged re­gard­ing with il­le­gal con­tri­bu­tions.

Elec­tionMall, Singh’s con­sult­ing com­pany, had also done work for former US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Aaron Schock, a Repub­li­can who re­signed his Peo­ri­aarea seat in Congress be­fore he was in­dicted last year on charges that he mis­used cam­paign funds to support a lav­ish life­style.

Ac­cord­ing to records, Schock paid Singh’s com­pany about $60 000 over a five-year pe­riod and Elec­tionMall con­trib­uted $5 000 to Schock’s cam­paign in 2014.

Be­fore he was sen­tenced, Singh told the judge: “I’m a very dif­fer­ent per­son than I was five years ago… I’ve al­ways wanted to serve my coun­try, now I can’t even vote.”

He said the case had taught him to be “more care­ful” in his busi­ness, to “slow things down and think things through” and to take ad­vice from men­tors.

PIC­TURE: SAN DIEGO UNION TRI­BUNE

Ravneet Singh.

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