In April of last year, former State Senator Leland Yee pleaded not guilty to federal charges of corruption and firearm trafficking. But then, last July, a revised grand jury indictment added some federal racketeering charges against the thoroughly disgraced politician, not to mention alleged associate Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and former School Board President Keith Jackson.
Well, with a trial a few weeks away and facing the possibility of a lifetime spent in the clink, KQED reports that today, Yee pleaded guilty to racketeering. Now he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at an October sentencing.
Yee's arrest in 2014 during his run for secretary of state came at the end of a multi-year FBI investigation of Chow, the elected "dragonhead" of a Chinese fraternal group known to some as the Ghee Kung Tong. That operation is one that others such as Debra Saunders for the Chronicle have likened to American Hustle, which is to say, "hmm, is this a little entrapment-y?"
Specifically, the FBI alleged that the association headed by Chow was racketeering and that undercover agents were able to launder $2.6 million in cash from illegal bookmaking, performed through the organization, to prove it. The FBI also alleged that Yee conspired to connect an undercover agent with an international arms dealer all in exchange for campaign contributions.
And yep, Yee acknowledge that as part of his plea agreement. He also acknowledged accepting $11,000 in exchange for setting up a meeting with another state senator. And there was more! $10,000 for recommending a person for a grant and $6,800 for providing a certificate on California State Senate letterhead honoring the Ghee Kung Tong.
We'll keep you posted on the sentencing and what becomes of that Shrimp guy, who has pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other charges.