Senator Leland Yee, a democrat who represents part of San Francisco and San Mateo County, in the midst of running for secretary of state, has been arrested for conspiring to traffic firearms and scheming to defraud citizens of honest services for his campaign by undercover FBI agents. Yee, a democrat, who is an advocate of gun control and open government, was one of the 26 people who were under federal investigation by the FBI for five years. The investigation targeted infamous Chinatown insider, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who has said that he had stopped any criminal activity long ago.
The charges that were just recently unsealed, circled around politicians in Sacramento and San Francisco, causing a stir in the race for secretary of state.
Yee was arraigned at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on charges of conspiring to traffic in firearms and scheming to defraud citizens of honest services(CA Penal Code 424) . He was released on a $500,000 bail.
The FBI alleged that Chow and five other defendants have laundered $2.3 million (CA Penal Code 186.1) (USC 18 section 1956) for undercover agents between March 2011 and December 2013. An agent allegedly told them the money was derived from crimes such as illegal gambling, drug dealing and cultivation of marijuana.
Most of those charged are linked to the Chinatown brotherhood association, Ghee Kung Tong, which Chow purportedly leads. Yee became a suspect of the investigation in 2011 when a close associate of him and Chow—former San Francisco school board member Keith Jackson, had allegedly solicited an undercover agent to help fund Yee's campaign as San Francisco mayor that year. Yee allegedly took many bribes and participated in explicit discussions about participating in gun-trafficking.
Yee was arrested after the FBI searched his office in Sacramento and his home in San Francisco. The FBI indicated that they seized computers and boxes of evidence. The charges against Yee contradict his record of government transparency and tougher gun control laws. Since the 1980's, Yee has been criticized by pro-gun lobbyists and politicians for his efforts to pass greater restrictions on semi-automatic guns.
The allegations state that, once Yee lost the race for mayor, he and a colleague solicited an undercover agent for donations to help pay off his debt. He then allegedly agreed that the money would buy “official acts,” including lobbying a manager at the state Department of Public Health. The agent reportedly gave Yee $10,000 in campaign funds for doing so. Chow also allegedly contributed money to Yee's campaign and in return Yee honored him by awarding him a Senate proclamation.