A well-orchestrated string of six FBI raids in the south San Francisco region Wednesday morning netted 26 people, including California State Senator Leland Yee, on criminal charges of weapons trafficking, money laundering, drug distribution, murder-for-hire, contraband cigarettes, and “honest services” fraud.
Yee, a candidate for California Secretary of State, was named in a 137-page FBI indictment for associating with notorious felons, selling favors for under-the-table cash donations, and involvement in arms smuggling schemes from Russia and the Philippines, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The wily Bay area politician, who had nurtured a public persona as gun control advocate and opponent of violent video games, was charged with seven felonies which could land him scores of years in jail. Later in the afternoon, a federal magistrate released him on $500,000 bond.
Party leaders were left scrambling as Lee became the third Democrat this year enmeshed in a corruption scandal. “Senator Yee should leave the Senate and leave it now,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacremento.
Yee personally took part in nefarious arms smuggling plots arranged by close friend and political consultant Keith Jackson, the indictment alleges, with undercover FBI agents and global arms merchants, according to the report. Charges include conspiracy in weapons trafficking without a license, attempts to illegally import firearms, and six counts of plotting to defraud citizens of “honest services.”
At a meeting as recent as March 14 the Mercury News reports, Yee told FBI agents how funds for the smuggled weapons would be doled out into campaign contributions, and that “he would take the cash and have one of his children write out a check.”
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