Do you remember California Democrat state senator Leland Yee? If you were relying on the mainstream media for information about his curious case a little over a year ago you might not even know his name. One of the most corrupt elected officials in the country, involved in a host of schemes which would have made the denizens of Tammany Hall blush back in the day, Yee’s story never seemed to rise to any level of interest for networks like CNN. In fact, even though the guy was up on charges of arranging illegal arms deals for cash, the media silence was so deafening that CNN became the story more so than Yee himself. You were able to read plenty about his case here at Hot Air and on other Right side blogs, but most of the country never heard a peep about him.
Well, you may finally have a chance to catch up on just what happened with him because Yee’s case has finally been resolved and it looks like he’s heading for prison.
Closing a dark chapter in California politics and capping the downfall of a prominent Bay Area legislator, former state Sen. Leland Yee on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge that is expected to land him in a federal prison cell for at least several years.
The 66-year-old Yee cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors, avoiding a looming August trial date but forcing him to admit he took payments in return for promises to use his political clout for a host of powerful interests, from NFL owners to medical marijuana businesses. Dressed in a dark suit and calm enough to chat casually with reporters before entering his guilty plea, Yee confessed in his plea agreement that he used his bids for secretary of state and San Francisco mayor as racketeering enterprises to extort bribes for his cash-starved campaigns.
Yee was set to go on trial on political corruption, money laundering and gun trafficking charges in August along with three other defendants: political consultant Keith Jackson, his son, Brandon Jackson, and former sports agent Marlon Sullivan.
Those defendants also pleaded guilty Wednesday under separate plea deals with the U.S. attorney’s office. Keith Jackson, a well-connected San Francisco political consultant accused of being at the center of Yee’s dealings, pleaded guilty to the same racketeering charge as the defrocked state legislator.
The only downside of the plea deal is that a lot of the suspected dirty dealings going on behind the scenes may never be exposed. Yee was involved with plenty of shady characters, both in California and across the pacific, including known gangsters. The guy was moving more paper than the New York Times and his list of contacts was said to be staggering. But it wasn’t just crime syndicate folks who were caught up in the web. There were connections to high elected officials and diverse celebrities including NFL legend Joe Montana. The entire Yee incident seemed to be a horrible embarrassment to the California Democrat political machine and everyone clearly wanted the problem to just go away.
Still, the plea is at least confirming some of the wildest stories which were running around, many of which sounded like they came out of a spy novel.
In the plea agreement, Yee admitted that he traded his political influence for bribes, typically offered by undercover FBI agents. Yee, among other things, admitted he agreed to influence legislation for would-be medical marijuana businesses in California, an NFL team owner trying to exempt pro athletes from the state’s workers’ compensation laws and a fictitious FBI concocted software firm seeking government technology contracts.
The racketeering charge also contained allegations Yee tried to arrange an illegal international arms deal through the Philippines in exchange for money. Yee confirmed his role in that bizarre crime as well.
If nothing else, we owe Yee a debt of gratitude for introducing the world to Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. That’s too good of a gangster name to go to waste and it would be a shame if it doesn’t show up in either an upcoming Batman movie or the next edition of Grand Theft Auto.