California State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat representing San Francisco, was arrested Wednesday by the Justice Department in an apparent sting that involves a famous Chinatown criminal, local media report.
Yee and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow were arrested Wednesday, in an operation that has the Federal Bureau of Investigation serving search warrants in Bay Area locations including a block of million-dollar-homes in San Mateo and the Chinatown headquarters of the Ghee Kung Tong Freemasons, according to KGO’s Vic Lee. KCRA reports that Yee’s Sacramento state capitol office has also been raided.
Chow was a snitch in the 2002 federal case against gangster Peter Chong, says a five-byline story in the San Jose Mercury News. First convicted of robbery in 1978, convicted of racketeering in 1995, Chow justified his testimony as payback against Chong in a 2011 interview with SF Weekly’s Mary Spicuzza. He got time knocked off his 24-year sentence and has been out of prison since 2007.
The Merc gets a no comment from Democratic State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
Yee has been running for California secretary of state in a field sporting two other Democrats, one Republican, and one former Republican.
Yee has been a player in San Francisco politics since the halcyon days of Willie Brown’s mayoral administration. He was elected to the city by the bay’s board of supervisors in 1997 and has moved more or less steadily left through a 12-year career as a state senator.
San Francisco’s Democratic establishment includes Senator Dianne Feinstein along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Yee is the third Democrat in the California state senate facing criminal charges. The other two are in Los Angeles County. Rod Wright of Inglewood is taking a leave of absence after being convicted of perjury and voter fraud related to charges that he lied about his residence when running for office in 2008. Monetebello’s Ron Calderon is also on leave while fighting 24 felony counts related to bribery in exchange for steering legislation.
The Democratic Party has 28 out of 40 seats in the state senate. Wright’s and Calderon’s absences have already left the Democrats without the two-thirds supermajority they often claim to need, presumably so they can stand up to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, the Democratic-controlled State Assembly, and the Democrats who hold all statewide elected offices.