SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 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 Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI criminal complaint that names 25 other defendants, 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. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms.
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 missiles, and explaining the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the U.S., according to the court document by FBI agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.
Yee said 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.”
“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.
Chow and Yee were arrested Wednesday during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Yee was charged with six counts of depriving the public of honest services and one count of conspiracy to traffic in guns without a license. He did not enter a plea. He was being held on $500,000 bail, and his passport has been confiscated.
If convicted on all the counts against him, Yee faces up to 125 years in prison.
Wednesday, after decades as an elected officeholder, he was sentenced to five years in prison for doing political favors in exchange for campaign cash — or, as the judge put it — for selling his vote.
Also read The Clinton’s and Chinese organized crime to see how Yee’s partner in crime performed “political favors” for Bill and Hillary Clinton:
Criminal organizations are a lot like families, extended through friendships and associations. One such contact was Shrimp Boy’s business partner Norman Hsu, whom the New York Times described in 2007 as “a wealthy donor to many Democratic candidates, and a bundler of campaign contributions to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2007.”
“Democratic Party officials have said Mr. Hsu soon became recognized as someone who could raise large amounts of money quickly; by last year he was holding events for Mrs. Clinton and had earned the title of “Hillraiser,’ meaning he bundled more than $100,000 for her  presidential campaign. All told, he has personally contributed more than $600,000 to [Democratic] candidates across the country,” said the Times.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hsu engaged in “‘arm twisting’ a network of about 300 investors, acquaintances and friends, he said. The Clinton campaign said it subsequently gave the money to the U.S. Treasury.”
A lateral transfer from one criminal organization to another.
Hsu was later convicted for running a pyramid scheme and violating campaign finance laws. The appeal to his conviction was met with consternation by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which said, “Hsu’s investments and campaign schemes overlapped. He used political connections created by his campaign fundraising to create an appearance of legitimacy used in recruiting victims to his investment scam, and used the illusions of successful investments to recruit his investors as campaign ‘donors.’”