The following excerpt is from The Sacramento Bee:
SAN FRANCISCO - Former state Sen. Leland Yee faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after a deal in federal court Wednesday in which he pleaded guilty to one felony count of racketeering.
The San Francisco Democrat was one of more than two dozen people arrested last year as part of a sweeping federal investigation into a Bay Area organized crime ring run by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a longtime associate of Yee’s. He will be sentenced on Oct. 21.
The plea agreement is the culmination of a stunning political collapse for Yee, who spent more than a decade in the Legislature and was running for secretary of state when he was arrested in March 2014. Days later, he was suspended from the Senate with pay, and he served the remaining months of his term in exile.
Yee declined to speak with the media as he left the courthouse. Before getting into a car waiting out front, he shook hands with two security guards who had escorted him from the building. His attorneys could not be reached for comment.
At the start of the hearing, Yee briefly sat with the media, smiling and joking. But his demeanor changed as he approached the bench. He spoke quietly, giving mostly one- or two-word answers.
“Guilty,” Yee said, when asked by Judge Charles Breyer how he was pleading.
“Are you pleading guilty of your own free will, because you are guilty?” Breyer asked.
“I am,” Yee said.
As part of the agreement, Yee admitted to exchanging political favors for campaign contributions, including:
▪ $10,000 to help a business secure a contract with the California Department of Public Health. According to the revised indictment, Yee met with undercover agents representing a software consulting company client, Well Tech. One of the agents said he wanted to position Well Tech to compete for state grants and contracts.
▪ $6,800 to issue a proclamation honoring a community organization in Chinatown that prosecutors allege is connected to criminal activities. According to the indictment, Yee gave the proclamation to Chee Kung Tong at a celebration of the group’s anniversary.
▪ $11,000 to introduce an undercover FBI agent to another state senator with influence over medical marijuana legislation. Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff has said he thinks he was “State Senator 2” in the affidavit. He said he met with Yee and “some long-haired guy in plain clothes” to discuss Republicans’ views on the legislation.
Yee also admitted to conspiring to extort several individuals who, at the time, had an interest in pending legislation extending the state athletic commission and changing the workers’ compensation program for professional athletes.
And he acknowledged offering to facilitate a multimillion-dollar arms deal for shoulder-fired missiles and automatic weapons with a source tied to Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines – a particularly bizarre and damaging allegation for the staunch gun-control advocate.
Experts said Yee likely accepted the plea because of the weight of evidence against him, but were unsure whether it indicated that he had agreed to cooperate with the prosecution going forward. The U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco declined to comment.Read more:
Former state Sen. Leland Yee pleads guilty to corruption charge