Senator Leland Yee, 65, candidate for California Secretary of State and author of gun control legislation, was apprehended Wednesday during an FBI sweep in the Sacramento and San FranciscoBay area. He was accused of wire fraud and conspiracy to illegally transport firearms, among other crimes.
The senator represents California’s 8th District, which encompasses San Francisco and a sizeable portion of San Mateo County. He is known for his advocacies of strengthening government transparency and whistleblower protection. Certain bills he previously filed sought a ban on fast reloading of military-style assault weapons and the state study of safe firearm storage.
Yee was implicated with 25 other individuals including gang leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and Yee’s campaign aide Keith Jackson. The senator is alleged to have abused his office by performing official acts for donations to clear his failed mayoral campaign debt amounting to $70,000. He is also alleged to have accepted campaign contributions in exchange for getting introductions, facilitating contracts, and influencing legislation. His alleged wrongdoing was brought to light by undercover FBI agents.
The FBI affidavit stated that Yee offered an undercover FBI agent access to weapons worth up to two and a half million, even walking him through the acquisition process from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines where the senator intended to hide out in November. The undercover agent represented himself as part of Ghee Kung Tong, an association in San Francisco's Chinese community.
Yee was released on bail amounting to half a million dollars and is expected to be back in court next week to negotiate the terms of his release. He is the third senator from the Democratic Party to face charges in 2014. He has been serving in the California Senate since 2006. He was also a member of the California Assembly, and was the first Chinese American to be elected to the California State Senate.
Yee out on half million dollar bail
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