A revised grand jury indictment filed Friday, which includes 228 charges against 29 defendants, now includes federal racketeering charges against suspended state Senator Leland Yee and Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, as well as against former San Francisco School Board President Keith Jackson, as CBS and multiple news outlets reported. All three already were facing charges of corruption and firearm trafficking, to which Yee pleaded not guilty in April.
As we heard earlier, everyone from Joe Montana to London Breed got caught up in the FBI's bizarre, wide-ranging probe. Matier & Ross reported last week that Mayor Lee came dangerously close to that net as well, with some apparent donations to his campaign coming from undercover agents though mayoral spokesman Tony Winnicker says these donations were news to him.
Critics including the Chron's Debra Saunders have called the fed's sting a "fishing expedition," and now compares it all to American Hustle, and the real-life Abscam sting depicted in that film that felt, to many, like entrapment.
If the [federal] complaint is accurate and that's a big if then Yee needed little prompting before he accepted illicit payments for public services. But his role as a dealmaker with a Filipino arms dealer was, by the feds' own account, all smoke and mirrors. The 137-page criminal complaint mostly cataloged instances of contraband cigarette trafficking, transport of stolen goods, drug dealing and money laundering, and not by criminal masterminds. Taxpayers can support a 4-year-long deployment of undercover agents, would-be informants and wiretap crews to collar arms dealers but for cigarettes and bootleg Hennessy? I don't think so.
She goes on to explore the background of the sting, which may have been a form of retribution by the feds after a prosecutor cut a deal, over a decade ago, that allowed Chow to go free and become the dragonhead of the Hop Sing Tong criminal organization. But yes, it all seems highly convoluted.
It remains to be seen who will go down for this, or if all of it really just comes down to prosecuting Chow.