The defense wanted four-and-a-half years, federal prosecutors pushed for eight, but according to headlines from the Weekly to KQED, the scales of justice were balanced at five. So here we go, everyone, one last time — at least for the next half-decade: Oh, No, Leland Yee!
Of course, it could have been worse for the 67-year-old former state senator implicated in dealings with convicted murderer Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow. Facing a possible life sentence on charges of corruption and firearms trafficking, Yee eventually plead guilty to racketeering instead, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“Nothing that I will ever do," Yee reportedly said at sentencing yesterday, "will take away the pain that I’ve caused to my family, friends, supporters and the institution that I represent... I hope that in your sentencing of me that you look at the entire life and not just these crimes that I’ve committed. In the 67 years of my life, I have devoted much of it to the work for the community of people here in San Francisco and the state of California.”
“You raise the issue of leniency, and I think I have to say something about that,” US District Court Judge Charles Breyer reportedly replied in turn. “I don’t feel I should be lenient. The crimes you have committed have resulted in essentially an attack on democratic institutions.” Additionally, Additionally, the judge fined Yee $20,000 of a possible $250,000.
Caught up in the probe that ensnared Chow, Yee allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he could provide him with firearms, claiming he had contacts who could obtain automatic weapons and even shoulder-fired missiles. As many have observed, politically Yee was a notable proponent of strict gun control and a staunch opponent of violent video games.
Under the auspices of the Chronicle, Willie "Can't Catch Me" Brown wrote that Yee,"was a scam artist, but he never stole any public money... Leland took campaign money from undercover federal agents in return for favors, but nothing he did was heinous enough to warrant us paying for his upkeep for the next eight years." Slick, Willie.
At least Yee will have a bit of company in the clink. Keith Jackson, a former head of the SF school board who was also implicated in the weapons trafficking scheme and caught on an FBI wiretap offering to illegally divide campaign contributions — was also sentenced yesterday. He will serve nine years in prison.