District Attorney George Gascón’s office charged an airport shuttle company and two of its executives Tuesday with making $11,500 in illegal contributions to Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign last year.
Go Lorrie’s Airport Shuttle, its general manager Jason Perez, and chief financial officer Hanan Qutami are facing more than two dozen misdemeanor charges each, in connection with an alleged scheme to launder $500 contributions from 23 company employees and their spouses in order to fund a Sept. 15 fundraiser for Lee.
According to prosecutors, Perez, 40, of San Mateo, promised the donors he would pay them back, and later convinced Qutami, 56, of South San Francisco, to reimburse them.
San Francisco law limits campaign donations to a $500 maximum per donor, and California law prohibits donors from laundering campaign contributions to avoid the donation limits.
Gascón said in a statement that his office takes violation of campaign finance and disclosure laws “very seriously.”
Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey said the mayor’s campaign had cooperated with the investigation, and that the funds were returned shortly after the issue became known.
“The mayor fully expects anyone who knowingly breaks the law to be held fully accountable,” Falvey said. “He appreciates the district attorney’s thorough investigation.”
Perez’s attorney Tony Brass said his client had been hoping to secure the same kind of influence that other larger airport shuttle companies had, and was naive about the political process. Brass said Perez has cooperated with the investigation from its inception.
“It was the dying wish of his grandfather that he get for Go Lorrie’s that sort of political advantage that their competitors had — that he get them noticed by the mayor,” Brass said. “He hopes that his cooperation will help in resolving this case.”
Perez and Qutami turned themselves in to authorities Tuesday morning and are scheduled to be arraigned in court Wednesday. They each face a maximum sentence of 12-and-a-half years in county jail, and $34,500 in fines if convicted.