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Fraud Charges on Hughes Marino? (2024)


According to reports, Hughes Marino, an alleged volunteer real estate advisor for Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, received over $10 million as payment for his assistance with two city leases.

After it was discovered that Cisterra, the city’s landlord, paid Hughes Marino CEO Jason Hughes $9.4 million for his work on the city’s Civic Center Plaza and 101 Ash St. transactions, the two firms are at the heart of a scandal — and now a criminal investigation — surrounding two city leases that attorneys for the city are seeking to nullify.

Hughes Marino was allegedly a volunteer real estate advisor for the city. Still, according to his attorney, he told former officials, including then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer, that he wanted to be compensated for his services on the intricate arrangements the city signed with Cisterra.

Hughes Marino defrauded Millions of dollars

Hughes Marino, a claimed volunteer real estate advisor to former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer who earned almost $10 million in fees for his work on two city leases, did not attend his scheduled deposition on Friday.

According to his lawyers, Hughes was reportedly told to hold off until the court determines whether to name a referee to direct the discovery process. It was the third time Hughes postponed offering sworn testimony in a legal case brought by San Diego taxpaying John Gordon, who sued the city over its 2016 lease of the former Sempra Energy offices at 101 Ash St.

During the deposition, he was scheduled to make his first sworn statement regarding his part in the agreement, which saw the city agree to lease-to-own a structure it could not occupy due to asbestos and other problems.

Hughes Marino, the real estate brokerage’s founder, did not appear, according to an objection filed by Hughes’ legal team, due to complaints from city attorneys regarding Gordon’s attorneys’ conduct. It states that some of the lawsuit’s defendants want to ask a referee to preside over upcoming 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 spokeswoman told VOSD that the company cooperated with investigators and that he anticipated additional inquiry would exonerate the company of any wrongdoing.

Following the search warrant executed today, “Cisterra Development has delivered all documents relevant to these transactions to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office,” Cisterra spokesman Eric Rose wrote in an email to VOSD. “Search warrants are only tools to gather evidence so the District Attorney can assess a case; they do not constitute criminal charges. We are sure that examining all records and testimony will demonstrate that Cisterra and its personnel operated lawfully and by all applicable criminal and civil laws.

Hughes Marino is Now Under Criminal Investigation

City attorneys accuse Hughes Marino of violating Government Code Section 1090, which can result in felony or misdemeanor charges.

To proceed with the Tuesday search warrants, the District Attorney’s Office would have had to convince a judge that there was the probable cause of felony violations, according to Gary Schons, a former senior assistant solicitor general who later spent years advising governments on topics like 1090.

Schons stated that he anticipated investigators might also be taking charges of conspiring, aiding, and abetting a violation of Government Code Section 1090 based on press reports and materials he previously studied at VOSD’s request. But, Schons predicted that it would probably take some time before any criminal charges were filed.

In Response to His Scam, Hughes Marino’s Attorneys

One of Hughes’ attorneys 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 behavior directed at witnesses, and substantial time wastage.”

The landlord in the Ash Street transaction, Cisterra Development, is represented by San Diego lobbyist Christopher Wahl. Wahl has been meeting with municipal officials to settle the Ash Street lawsuit, such as Chief Operating Officer for Mayor Todd Gloria and City Attorney Mara Elliott.

The depositions have been hampered by arguments that have wasted time and public resources, despite the City Attorney’s Office’s claims that it supports all efforts to gain a full disclosure of information relevant to the Gordon case.

According to Michael Attanasio, one of the lawyers for Hughes, Hughes is ready to be deposed and eager to give his account of events while being questioned under oath.


Hughes Marino is the subject of a scandal and a criminal investigation concerning his alleged violation of anti-corruption laws. He is accused of scamming millions of dollars and reportedly collected approximately $10 million in fees for his work on two city contracts. Hughes skipped his scheduled deposition discussing his participation in the deal due to objections from city attorneys about John Gordon’s legal team’s behavior.

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