By Associated Press
A California state senator who authored gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
The allegations against state Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. Yee was arrested Wednesday.
Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation. He or members of his campaign staff accepted at least $42,800 in cash or campaign contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for carrying out the agents’ specific requests, the court documents allege.
Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder-fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.
He was unhappy with his life and told the agent he wanted to hide out in the Philippines, according to the affidavit.
“There’s a part of me that wants to be like you,” he told the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. “You know how I’m going to be like you? Just be a free agent there.”
The introduction with the trafficker took place at a San Francisco restaurant earlier this month, according to the documents. Yee said he wouldn’t go to the Philippines until November.
“Once things start to move, it’s going to attract attention. We just got to be extra-extra careful,” he said, according to court documents.
The affidavit names Yee and 25 others, including Raymond Chow, a onetime gang leader with ties to San Francisco’s Chinatown known as “Shrimp Boy,” and Keith Jackson, Yee’s campaign aide. Jackson is accused of multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
The grand total of 26 defendants named in the affidavit are charged with firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and honest services fraud.
Yee, Jackson and Chow are charged as follows:
· Conspiracy to Traffic in Firearms Without a License, and to Illegally Import Firearms · Scheme to Defraud Citizens of Honest Services
· Conspiracy to Traffic in Firearms Without a License and to Illegally Import Firearms · Trafficking in Firearms Without a License · Scheme to Defraud Citizens of Honest Services · Use of an Interstate Commerce Facility for the Commission of a Murder-for-Hire · Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics
Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow
· Money Laundering of Funds Believed to be Proceeds of Specified Unlawful Activity · Money Laundering · Conspiracy to Receive and Transport Stolen Property in Interstate Commerce · Conspiracy to Traffic and Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes
The office of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag summarized some of the undercover operations leading to the charges in a press release: