Lawmaker, others indicted in corruption case
SAN FRANCISCO — A California state senator and more than two dozen other defendants have been formally indicted in a sweeping San Francisco political corruption and organized crime case, officials announced Friday.
The grand jury indictment released by the U.S. attorney’s office replaces a criminal complaint filed last week. State Sen. Leland Yee and 19 others were arrested on March 26.
Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, is accused of conspiring to connect an undercover FBI agent with a Philippines arms dealer in exchange for campaign contributions, and of trading political influence for cash.
The indictment contains the same charges as the criminal complaint and adds two more defendants.
A total of 29 people have been charged in connection with the organized crime investigation centered on a Chinatown social organization that the FBI says is a front for a gang. It appeared that nine defendants remained at large.
Campaign donation records show Yee made trips to the Philippines in 2008 and in 2012, the Sacramento Bee reported (http://bit.ly/1fSiNmb).
His Senate campaign committee paid $894 for a flight to Manila “to meet with Filipino officials” in September 2008, the records show. Another trip in July 2012 included a $246 payment from Yee’s officeholder account for an Asiana Airlines flight to Manila for what was called a “governmental fact-finding” trip.
The Bee also reported that Yee spent at least $62,000 at the New Asia restaurant, a Chinatown eatery that FBI investigators allege hosted many events of the Chee Kung Tong, the organization at the heart of the case.
The senator’s new lawyer, former federal prosecutor Jim Lassart, didn’t immediately return a phone call Friday.
Yee is free on $500,000 bond pending trial and has not yet entered a plea. He and most of the other defendants, including Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.
Chow remains in jail after a magistrate judge declared the Hong Kong native and convicted felon a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Chow is the leader of a community group that the FBI says is a front for a notorious Asian gang. His charges include money laundering and trafficking in stolen goods and illegal cigarettes.
The two new people charged in the case are Zanghao Wu and Tong Zao Zhang.
They are charged with buying contraband cigarettes from an undercover FBI agent in New York. The Marlboro cigarettes were missing stamps that show New York state taxes had been paid.