Federal authorities have unsealed a criminal complaint in San Francisco today alleging charges including drug trafficking, gun running, money laundering and murder for hire against 26 people, including state Sen. Leland Yee.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Chow's criminal rap sheet dates back to the 1970s, and includes previous convictions for racketeering, drug trafficking, attempted murder, arson, robbery, gambling and extortion.
The complaint unsealed today alleges that between 2012 and 2014, Yee offered to use his office to do favors for undercover FBI agents in exchange for money that would fund his Secretary of State campaign.
The U.S. Attorney's office says one instance of such an offer happened after Yee lost the November 2011 election for mayor of San
In an effort to retire at least $70,000 in debt accrued during the campaign, authorities say Yee agreed to help push a contract under consideration with the state Department of Public Health. He allegedly called a manager at the department, and sent an official letter in support of the contract, which was to benefit an undercover FBI agent. In exchange, authorities say Yee accepted a $10,000 campaign donation.
Official charges against Yee include six counts of attempting to defraud citizens of honest services, and conspiracy to traffic in, and illegally import firearms.
Maximum penalties for the firearms charges include 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Penalties for each of the fraud charges could
carry a penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Yee represents Senate District 8, which includes the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County. He declared his candidacy for secretary of state in 2012 when his term in the state senate was up, and he was on the ballot for November's election.
Just last week, the Society for Professional Journalists handed Sen. Leland Yee an award for his work fostering government transparency.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a fellow San Francisco Democrat, said he was shocked on hearing of Yee's arrest.
A spokesman for Ammiano said the Assemblymember's thoughts today were with Yee's family, because he's known them since they were on the city's
school board together.
Despite the shocking nature of the allegations, some experts believe there will not be much political fallout from the expected demise of
Yee's political career.
David Latterman, a lecturer on politics for the University of San Francisco, said there shouldn't be heavy repercussions because Yee did not have many close ties to other politicians that could fall.
"If this was (Tom)Ammiano or (Mark) Leno, this would be a much bigger deal. They both have a lot of other politicians who model themselves after them and call themselves protégés," Latterman said. "You can't do that with Yee."
He also said there aren't likely to be votes on any upcoming bills that would be impacted by today's indictment.
As for negative impacts on the Democratic party, Latterman said he also expects those to be minimal.
"I don't think the Republicans can make too much hay of this," Latterman said. "There's always a few bad apples in any party."
Derek Cressman, who is running against Yee for Secretary of State, disagrees with Latterman's assessment. He said what happened today should be a "wake up call," and that, "We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California
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