Senator Yee Named in Weapons Trafficking, Corruption Case

[UPDATED] California state Sen. Leland Yee, who once tried to criminalize sale of violent video games to children, was named Wednesday in a federal indictment on a charge of conspiracy to traffic in firearms and six counts of public corruption.

He was one of 26 people in a sweeping indictment that included an alleged murder-for-hire plot, drug distribution, money laundering and sale of contraband cigarettes.

Among those named in the 137-page FBI affidavit was Raymond “Shrimpboy” Chow, considered a leader of the San Francisco-based Chee Kung Tong organization, according to federal prosecutors.

Yee, 65, a Democrat, represents San MateoCounty and portions of San Francisco in the California state senate.

Yee sat stone-faced in the packed federal courtroom, among more than a dozen other defendants during an arraignment.

He spoke only twice.  Once he responded “yes” he understood the charges against him and again later he responded “yes” when U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins asked if he understood the terms of his bail.

Yee was released on a $500,000 personal appearance bond, which means he was not required to post any cash or property to secure the bail, but simply promise to come to court.  He is required to remain in California when the case is pending.

The Indictment

Federal prosecutors said in court papers that FBI undercover agents infiltrated the CKT and were introduced to Chow.  The prosecutors allege they discovered a pattern of racketeering.

During multiple undercover operations the FBI agent was allegedly introduced to defendants for money laundering, drug dealing and trafficking in firearms, stolen cigarette and liquor schemes as well alleged plots to conduct murder-for-hire schemes, according to the government.

Among those Chow allegedly introduced to the agent to carry out weapons and murder-for-hire schemes were Keith Jackson and his son, Brandon Jackson, according to prosecutors.

The alleged supplier of the firearms was Rinn Roeun, according to the affidavit.  In addition, Roeun allegedly told the agent he was willing to commit murder for a fee.

The indictment alleges Sen. Yee was a close associate of Keith Jackson.  From May 2011 to the present, Jackson was allegedly involved in raising campaign funds for Yee.

In 2012, Jackson allegedly raised campaign funds for Yee’s Secretary of State campaign by soliciting donations from undercover FBI agents, in exchange for multiple official acts, according to the charges.  The indictment also alleges that Yee and Jackson were involved in a conspiracy to traffic in firearms.

If convicted Yee faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the six counts of public corruption, officially called theft of honest services, and five years for the single count of weapons trafficking.

As for Yee’s law criminalizing sale of violent video games to children, the state Supreme Court struck it down in 2010.

‘Shrimpboy’ Chow

Chow, 54, has a long criminal history and the FBI affidavit lists him as the “dragonhead” or leader of the San Francisco Chee Kung Ton organiation.  He pled guilty in 2000 to federal racketeering, in schemes that included murder-for-hire, distribution of heroin and arson, according to the FBI.

In 2006, authorities released Chow from prison after serving a fraction of his 13-year sentence.  He took over as leader of CKT shortly after the murder of its previous leader, Allen Ngai Leung, according to the FBI.  That case remains unsolved.

The FBI affidavit alleges that between 2011 and 2013, Chow and others laundered $2.3 million in allegedly illicit funds.

Case:  In re:  Criminal Complaint, 14-70421

 

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