SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A retired San Diego police detective pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal conspiracy charge for helping a Mexican millionaire illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Diego political campaigns.
Ernesto Encinas, the 57-year-old owner of a San Diego-based private security and consulting business, also pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.
He faces several years in prison when he is sentenced June 9 by U.S. District Judge Michael Anello.
Defense attorney Jeremy Warren said he hoped to save his client from jail.
"He took responsibility for what he did," Warren said outside court after the hearing.
Encinas, Ravneet Singh, a self-styled campaign guru who owned a Washington, D.C.-based campaign services company, local lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes were charged in January, accused of trying to hide the source of the large donations to federal and local campaigns, including the 2012 mayoral campaigns of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner.
Court papers indicated Encinas wanted the next mayor to fire the chief of police and replace him with a person of Encinas' choosing in exchange for financial help supplied by Mexican millionaire Jose Azano Matsura, who faces a charge of campaign contributions by a foreign national.