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Hughes Marino: A Fraudster? (2024)


Reports suggest that Hughes Marino, a purported volunteer real estate advisor for former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, was paid more than $10 million for helping with two city leases.

Following the revelation that Cisterra, the city’s landlord, paid Hughes Marino CEO Jason Hughes $9.4 million for his services on the Civic Center Plaza and 101 Ash St. transactions, the two companies are at the centre of a scandal involving two city leases that the city’s attorneys are attempting to invalidate, which has led to a criminal investigation.

Hughes Marino was purportedly a voluntary counsellor for the city on real estate. Nevertheless, he informed past officials—including Mayor Kevin Faulconer at the time, according to his lawyer—that he needed payment for his work on the complex contracts the city had with Cisterra.

Millions of dollars were stolen by Hughes Marino.

Hughes Marino did not show up for his scheduled deposition on Friday. Marino is a self-described volunteer real estate advisor to former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who earned nearly $10 million in fees for his work on two city leases.

Hughes’ attorneys claim that he was instructed to wait until the court decides whether to appoint a referee to oversee the discovery procedure. In a lawsuit filed by tax-paying San Diego resident John Gordon against the city over its 2016 lease of the former Sempra Energy headquarters at 101 Ash St., Hughes had once again delayed providing sworn testimony.

He was supposed to make his first sworn statement about his portion of the arrangement, which saw the city agree to, during the deposition.

An objection filed by Hughes’ legal team states that the real estate brokerage’s founder, Hughes Marino, did not present because city attorneys had complained about the behaviour of Gordon’s counsel. It claims that some of the defendants in the litigation wish to request that a referee chair future depositions.

Hughes Marino Fraud investigation

Voice of San Diego observed District Attorney’s Office detectives late Tuesday morning at Cisterra’s Carmel Valley workplace and Hughes Marino’s workplace in the city. Moreover, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Steve Walker has verified that on Tuesday morning, investigators executed search warrants at both workplaces. He declined to make any additional comments.

A Cisterra representative told VOSD that the business worked with the authorities and that he expected more investigation will clear the business of any wrongdoing.

“Cisterra Development has delivered all documents relevant to these transactions to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office,” Cisterra spokesman Eric Rose sent VOSD in an email after the search warrant was issued today. “Search warrants do not constitute criminal charges; rather, they are instruments used to obtain evidence for the District Attorney to consider in evaluating a case. We are certain that a review of all documentation and evidence will show that Cisterra and its employees complied with all relevant criminal and civil laws and conducted business legally.

Currently, Hughes Marino is being investigated criminally.

Hughes Marino is accused by city attorneys of breaking Government Code Section 1090, a violation that carries felony or misdemeanour penalties.

In order for the District Attorney’s Office to move forward with the Tuesday search warrants, it would have needed to persuade a judge that there was probable cause of felonies, as stated by Gary Schons, a former senior assistant solicitor general who went on to advise governments on matters such as 1090.

Schons noted that based on press accounts and information he had previously reviewed at VOSD’s request, he expected investigators to also be taking charges of conspiring, assisting, and abetting a violation of Government Code Section 1090. However, Schons said it would likely be some time before any formal accusations were brought.

Attorneys for Hughes Marino Respond to His Scam

One of Hughes’ lawyers wrote, “Counsel for Mr. Hughes was informed by counsel for the City of San Diego, a defendant in Gordon, that depositions in the case, including the most recent deposition of third-party witness Chris Wahl, have been marked by unprofessional personal attacks on counsel, abusive behaviour directed at witnesses, and substantial time wastage.”

Christopher Wahl, a San Diego lobbyist, is representing Cisterra Development, the landlord in the Ash Street transaction. In an effort to resolve the Ash Street litigation, Wahl has been meeting with city attorney Mara Elliott and mayor Todd Gloria’s chief operating officer.

In summary

A criminal inquiry and scandal surround Hughes Marino because of his alleged breaking of anti-corruption rules. He allegedly made almost $10 million in compensation for his work on two city contracts, and he is suspected of swindling millions of dollars. The city attorneys objected to Hughes’s scheduled deposition regarding his involvement in the purchase, citing actions taken by John Gordon’s legal team.

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