Suspended State Senator Leland Yee (D- San Francisco) was in federal court today to enter a plea for his alleged role in a San Francisco political corruption and organized crime case. Yee's attorney entered a plea of "not guilty" to seven charges including one count of "conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and illegally import firearms," and "six counts of engaging in a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services."
Federal prosecutors allege that the Senator accepted money to pay off his campaign debts and help fund his campaign to become secretary of state. The indictment is based largely on a three-year undercover FBI investigation which was originally focused on another defendant - Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a "reformed" gang leader in San Francisco.
The feds claim Yee was involved in cutting deals with undercover FBI agents posing as East Coast mafia members and businessmen willing to pay for his political influence. Perhaps the most shocking accusation is that Yee agreed to help facilitate an arms deal between rebels in the south islands of the Philippines and an undercover agent posing as a gangster.
Keith Jackson, the San Francisco political consultant who feds say was the "state senator's chief conduit to corruption," also pled "not guilty" to a number of charges including a "murder-for-hire" scheme.
Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, whose charges include money laundering and trafficking, did not enter a plea today.
Yee is scheduled to appear in court on Friday before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.