Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, caught in a years-long FBI undercover investigation into a Chinatown-linked criminal network, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges, wire fraud and conspiracy to smuggle guns.
Yee, 65, is one of 29 people named in the indictment handed down Thursday and unveiled Friday. Yee, arrested March 26 in a pre-dawn raid, is free on $500,000 bond.
The formal charges against Yee largely track the March 26 FBI affidavit detailing the investigation. That document listed a total of 26 people, including Yee. The federal grand jury indictment identifies 29 defendants. The additional three face weapons or smuggling charges.
Also indicted was Keith Jackson, 54, a San Francisco-based political consultant and Yee’s political fund-raiser, and Jackson’s son, Brandon Jamelle Jackson, 27. The charges against them include conspiracy to smuggle weapons and drugs, and plotting a murder for hire. The elder Jackson is a former member of the San Francisco school board.
Yee is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in San Francisco. He was suspended earlier from the Democrat-controlled Senate in a 28-1 vote. Also suspended were Rod Wright of Inglewood, convicted in an L.A. court of eight counts of voter fraud and perjury, and Ron Calderon of Montebello, who was accused of corruption and money laundering in a 24-count federal complaint.
Also facing arraignment is Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the head of a Chinatown social organization that had been targeted by the federal investigation. The charges against Chow include smuggling cigarettes and receiving stolen property.
Yee, who knew Chow since at least May 2011, was $70,000 in debt from his unsuccessful San Francisco mayoral race, and he allegedly illegally took cash in order to retire his debt.
He also raised some $800,000 for his secretary of state campaign, according to state financial disclosure documents. He has since dropped out of the race.
Chow was described as the leader – or “Dragonhead” – of Chinatown’s Chee Kung Tong, or CKT, and he has multiple state and federal convictions for racketeering, drug trafficking and robbery. Others linked to Chee Kung Tong, which authorities describe as a criminal enterprise, also figure in the federal undercover probe. The CKT traces roots to a secret society formed in China in the mid-17th century, according to the FBI.