Ravneet Singh
Self-proclaimed ‘campaign guru’ Ravneet Singh sentenced to 15 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Diya TV) — Self-proclaimed “campaign guru” Ravneet Singh was sentenced to 15 months in prison and issued a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors say the 45-year-old Singh used his expertise to “thwart campaign finance laws,” in helping Mexican tycoon José Susumo Azano Matsura illegally funnel about $600,000 into the 2012 San Diego mayoral election.

“American elections are not for sale,” Executive U.S. Attorney Blair Perez said in a statement issued by the California Southern District of the U.S. attorney’s office. “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.”

Singh, an Illinois resident, allegedly funneled more than $600,000 in illegal foreign campaign contributions in San Diego’s 2012 Mayoral race. Singh was ordered to report to prison on Oct. 12. Singh had apparently tried entering politics, but failed. He didn’t give up on politics though – building a career assisting other people’s campaigns, from city officials to state and international offices. He became quite versed in using social media, the Internet and technology to reach voters. He was the owner of Washington, D.C.-based ElectionMall Technologies.The consulting company had previously also done work for former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Reublican who resigned from Congress before he was indicted last year on charges that he misused campaign funds. Records show that Schock paid Singh’s company about $60,000 over a five-year period, and ElectionMall contributed $5,000 to Schock’s campaign in 2014.

Prosecutors contend the billionaire Azano “hijacked the election” to have a mayor who would do his bidding, including to help implement Azano’s vision of turning San Diego’s bayfront into a “Miami West.” Prosecutors called the conspiracy sophisticated and calculated. Singh supported the campaign with his social media and web services. Singh’s software company billed Azano’s Mexican company for $75,000 for the work, code named project Betty Boo, according to evidence presented at trial last summer.

Azano was found guilty of 36 charges, including conspiracy to make political contributions by a foreign national. Singh was convicted on all four counts against him – conspiracy and making illegal contributions. Singh’s defense attorney, Michael Lipman, said he still believes in his client’s innocence and is appealing the conviction on several legal grounds.

“He was paid a minimal amount of money by Azano to do a minimal amount of work for these two campaigns,” Lipman said, adding there was no evidence that Singh was paid $267,000 for his services and no evidence that he knew of Azano’s other donations.

Singh’s attorney presented approximately 80 exhibits of Singh’s good works to the judge, including dozens of letters from supporters who praised his work ethic and service. Singh has been working toward a doctorate degree and also volunteering with inner-city youth about how to succeed in the professional world.

Information from the San Diego Union Tribune and Chicago Tribune.