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The Indictment Against Leland Yee Puts "The Wire's" Clay Davis to Shame
Scott Lucas | Photo: Courtesy Wall Street Journal | March 27, 2014
If you thought the charges against Leland Yee would be bad, you had no idea. As in, he offered to set up an arms deal with Islamic rebels for $2 million in cash. As in, he has ties to a gangster named Shrimp Boy. As in, he makes corrupt state senator Clay Davis from The Wire look like George Washington. You can read the whole affidavit here, but it's really, really long, so we've gone ahead and pulled out the highlights. The allegations (and for now they are only that—allegations) are cinematic, staggering, and remarkable in their scope. Here they are, in descending order of sheeeeeeeeeeeit:
Yee told an FBI agent to give him a shopping list of guns: "Senator Yee asked [the agent] to provide an inventory list of desired weapons [...] [The agent] told Yee he would deliver $2,000,000 cash."
Yee could arrange from some serious firepower: "[The agent] asked about shoulder fired automatic weapons. Senator Yee responded by saying the automatic weapons are the equivalent to the "M16" Automatic Service Weapon [...] [The agent] asked about the availability of shoulder fire missiles or rockets. Senator Yee responded 'I told him about the rockets and things like that.'"
Yee took personal responsibility for delivering the weapons: "Senator Yee said, 'We're interested' in arranging the weapons deal [...] and said of the arms dealer, 'He's going to rely on me, because ultimately it's going to be me. [The agent] stated he would compensate Yee for brokering the relationship and arms deal."
Yee was in it for the cash: "Senator Yee said, 'Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the good? I think we can get the goods.'"
Yee masterminded a complex scheme to import illegal weapons: "Keith Jackson [a political consultant who worked as Yee's fundraiser] told [an agent] that Senator Yee had a contact who deals in arms trafficking. This purported arms dealer was later identified. Jackson requested [a campaign donation] on behalf of Senator Yee, for Senator Yee to facilitate a meeting with arms dealer with the intent of [the agent] to purportedly purchase a large number of weapons to be imported through the Port of Newark, New Jersey. During a meeting [...] Senator Yee discussed certain details of the specific types of weapons [the agent] was interested in buying and importing."
Yee had connection with Filipino rebel groups: "Keith Jackson advised that Senator Yee had an unidentified Filipino associate who was supplying 'heavy' weapons to rebel groups in the Philippines."
Including Muslim terrorists: "According to Senator Yee, Mindanao was largely population by Muslim rebel groups who were fighting the federal government. Yee continued by saying the Muslim rebels had no problem 'kidnapping individuals, killing individuals, and extorting them for ransom."
In specific the Moro Islamic Liberation Front: "[The agent] asked about the major Muslim organizations in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Senator Yee responded by saying 'M.I.L.F.'"
Yee allegedly wasn't making up the identity of his arms dealer: "This purported arms dealer was later identified."
And, Russian arms dealers: "According to Senator Yee, the arms dealer source the weapons from Russia."
Yee knew he was on the wrong side of the law: "Despite complaining about [the agent's] tendency to speak frankly and tie payment to performance [...] Senator Yee and Keith Jackson [...] never walked away from quid pro quo requests."
Yee took envelopes full of cash to influence marijuana policy: "The group discussed the status of medical marijuana policy and the politics of state marijuana regulation. [The agent] took an envelope containing $11,000 in cash and put it on the table in front of Yee and Jackson. [The agent] stated, "this is a campaign donation [...] That's for the meeting with [another, un-named State Senator]. [The agent] said his contributions were 'not coming in the form of checks.' The envelope remained on the table for the duration of the meeting [...] As Yee and Jackson got up to leave, Yee made a gesture to Jackson toward the envelope of cash, but Jackson did not see the gesture. Senator Yee then walked over Jackson, tapped him on the back, again gestured to the enveloped, and said, 'take that." Jackson picked up the envelope."
Yee nickled and dimed the FBI agent over the price of his bribe: "[The agent] told Senator Yee that he was paying for the meetings and handed en envelope with $10,000 cash to Jackson while telling Senator Yee that the playing field was now level [...] [The agent] asked Senator Yee how much he would to introduce marijuana legislation. Senator Yee said that he would have to think about the number."
The FBI got to Yee through a Chinatown gang: "During the course of multiple undercover operations, [an undercover agent] was brought into a criminal relationship with many of the targets. The purpose of this criminal relationship was for Chow [and others] to launder [the agent's] money, purported to have been derived from illegal activities [...] In further support of [the agent's] legend, [he] portrayed himself to Chow and others as an east coast member of La Cosa Nostra, an Italian organized crime syndicate. Chow, as the Dragonhead, was the supervisor of the criminal relationship."
Yee's fundraiser Keith Jackson was the go-between man: "In addition to his relationship with Chow and the Chee Kung Tong, Jackson is also a close associate with, and has a long-time relationship with, Senator Yee. Keith Jackson owns and runs a business called 'Jackson Consultancy,' a San Francisco based consulting firm. During the time frame from at least May 2011 through the present, Keith Jackson has been involved in raising campaign funds for Senator Yee."
Yee exceeded campaign contribution limits in his mayoral bid: "Keith Jackson solicited [an undercover agent] to make contributions to Senator Yee's San Francisco mayoral campaign [including donations] in excess of the $500 individual donation limit. [The agent] declined [...] but introduced Keith Jackson and Senator Yee to [...] another undercover FBI agent. Keith Jackson and Senator Yee then solicited [the second agent] for campaign contributions, and [he] made at least one personal donation in the amount of $5,000 to Senator Yee's mayoral campaign."
Yee allegedly traded favors directly for campaign cash: "In connection with efforts to retire [his] mayoral campaign debt, Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed that Senator Yee would make a telephone call to a manager with the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract under consideration with [an undercover agent's] purported client [...] in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation. Senator Yee made the call on October 18, 2012 [...] On November 19, 2012, Keith Jackson accepted the $10,000 cash donation."
Not just once, but twice: "Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed to [the agent's] request that Senator Yee provide an official State Senate proclamation honoring the Chee Kung Tong in exchange for a $6,800 campaign donation, the maximum individual donation amount allowed by law."
Not twice, but three times: "Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed that in exchange for campaign donations, Senator Yee would introduce a donor to state legislators who had influence over pending and proposed medical marijuana legislation [...] The donor was another FBI undercover agent, who was posing as a businessman involved in medical marijuana in Arizona and wanted to expand his business interests to California. On June 20, 2013, Senator Yee made one such introduction [and the agent] delivered $11,000 cash to Senator Yee and Keith Jackson on June 22, 2013."
Yee yearned for a different life: "Senator Yee stated he was unhappy with his life and said, 'There is a part of me that wants to be like you [...] Just be a free agent out there." Senator Yee told [the agent] that he wanted to hide out in the Philippines."