Federal authorities have unsealed a criminal complaint in San Francisco today alleging charges including drug trafficking, gun running, money laundering and murder for hire against 26 people, including state Sen. Leland Yee, who has represented Woodside and Portola Valley in the Legislature.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Sen. Yee this morning, along with infamous Chinatown gang leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow. Mr. Chow is the president of the Supreme Lodge of Chinese Free Masons in San Francisco.
State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg today called on Sen. Yee to resign following his arrest. Sen. Steinberg, D-Sacramento, spoke in Sacramento flanked by a number of his fellow state senators.
Calling the charges in the indictment "sickening," and "shocking and surreal," Sen. Steinberg said, "Leave. Don't burden your colleagues and this great institution with your troubles. Leave."
Sen. Steinberg said senators were prepared to move to suspend Mr. Yee if he did not resign, and would remove him from all his committee positions.
"I am angry," Sen. Steinberg said. "I'm angry on behalf of the people and I'm angry on behalf of the 37 other members whose hard work every day on behalf of the people is being tarnished because of events outside of their control and outside of our control."
The complaint unsealed today alleges that between 2012 and 2014, Sen. Yee offered to use his office to do favors for undercover FBI agents in exchange for money that would fund his secretary of state campaign.
The U.S. Attorney's office says one instance of such an offer happened after Sen. Yee lost the November 2011 election for mayor of San Francisco.
In an effort to retire at least $70,000 in debt accrued during the campaign, authorities say, Sen. Yee agreed to help push a contract under consideration with the state Department of Public Health. He allegedly called a manager at the department, and sent an official letter in support of the contract, which was to benefit an undercover FBI agent. In exchange, authorities say, Sen. Yee accepted a $10,000 campaign donation.
Official charges against Sen. Yee include six counts of attempting to defraud citizens of honest services, and conspiracy to traffic in, and illegally import, firearms.
Maximum penalties for the firearms charges include 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Penalties for each of the fraud charges could carry a penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Sen. Yee represents Senate District 8, which includes the western half of San Francisco and a portion of San Mateo County. He declared his candidacy for secretary of state in 2012 when his term in the state Senate was up, and he was on the ballot for November's election.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow's criminal rap sheet dates back to the 1970s, and includes previous convictions for racketeering, drug trafficking, attempted murder, arson, robbery, gambling and extortion.