Crime and politics

How an FBI probe of organized crime in Chinatown took down a senator and well-connected political consultant

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steve@sfbg.com

San Franciscans awoke March 26 to the surprising news that state Sen. Leland Yee (D-SF) had been arrested on federal corruption charges as part of early morning police raids targeting an organized crime syndicate based in Chinatown, along with reputed gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and two dozen others.

Yee had a reputation for sometimes trading votes for campaign contributions, a perception that had only gained strength in recent months as he launched his first statewide campaign, running to lead the Secretary of State's Office, casting key votes for landlords and big industries that he refused to explain to local activists.

So in a year when two other Democratic Senators have also been stung by federal corruption and bribery probes, the televised image of Yee in handcuffs wasn't beyond the realm of possibilities. It was surprising, but not shocking.

Yet by the mid-afternoon when the 137-page federal criminal complaint was unsealed and journalists started reading through what undercover FBI agents had discovered during their five-year criminal investigation, it read more like a sensational organized crime and espionage novel than a court document, a real page-turner that just got more wild and incredible as it went on.

timelineYeeWhat began with the FBI investigating a murder and leadership transition in the San Francisco branch of the ancient Chinese organized crime syndicate known as the Triad, led by an undercover FBI agent who had infiltrated the group, evolved into a widening investigation accusing Yee of arranging an illegal arms trafficking deal with a Muslim rebel group in the Philippines in exchange for $100,000 funneled into his campaign, on top of smaller favors that Yee allegedly did in exchange for envelopes with $10,000 in cash.

It was even worse for local political consultant Keith Jackson, a key Yee fundraiser who was also on contract with Lennar Urban for its Bayview-Hunters Point development projects, with the undercover FBI agents allegedly drawing Jackson into big cocaine deals, money laundering, bribery, and even a murder-for-hire plot. If the complaint is to be believed, Jackson seemed willing to do just about anything to enrich himself and raise money for Yee.

Meanwhile, the public image that Chow has been cultivating for himself since his 2003 release from federal prison — that of a reformed career gangster turned Chinatown civic leader, someone praised by local politicians for inspiring fellow ex-convicts to turn their lives around — was replaced the complaint's description of a powerful "Dragonhead" overseeing a vast criminal enterprise involved in drugs, guns, prostitution, protection rackets, moving stolen booze and cigarettes, and money laundering.

"I think the whole city is in shock at the moment," Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents Chinatown and ran against Yee in the 2011 mayor's race, told the Guardian that afternoon. "Today's widespread law enforcement actions are incredibly disturbing. The detail and scale of the criminal activities are shocking."

In the days that followed, Yee withdrew his candidacy for Secretary of State and was suspended by his colleagues in the California Senate. But where this wild tale of crime and corruption goes next — and who else gets implicated as these powerful and well-connected defendants look to cut deals to avoid the lengthy prison sentences they all face — is anyone's guess.

 

THE CRIMINAL

Chow, 54, was raised a criminal, telling the History Channel's "Gangland" that he stabbed someone in Hong Kong at the age of nine before moving to San Francisco in 1977 and getting involved in the Hop Sing Boys gang and Chinatown's criminal underworld.

Comments

Here's a list of some of Uncle Leland's campaign contributors. The money they gave him will now, in all likelihood, be going towards his defense. Ouch

Amalgamated Transit Union

Facebook

Teamsters Local 665

California Nurses Association

AFSCME Local 3299

International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 16

Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 467

District Council of Iron Workers

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 6

Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties Building Construction Trades Council

San Francisco Fire Fighters

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

Operating Engineers Local 3

California Federation of Teachers

California School Employees Association

California Faculty Association

United Domestic Workers of America

Posted by Snoozers on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

Is anyone surprised that the unions are totally in bed with dirty politicians? Labor and corruption have ALWAYS gone hand in hand.

The fact that this isn't exposed more often just goes to show how lazy and biased journalism and reporting have become in this country.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

once upon a time, a long long time ago, it was illegal for puplic employees to give money to candidates running for offices which either directly or apoints others to aprove the public employees saleries and benefits.

bribery was illegal!

but now public employee unions and wealthy contractors and rich people can "donate" money to candidates for office who would vote on economic issues concerning the donars.
of course the politicians claim the donations do not influence their vites. and guess what, some voters believe that crap and vote for em over and over again.

Posted by sftparty on Apr. 21, 2014 @ 9:31 am

Unreal. Hollywood just could not make this stuff up.

But Steve, where is the buck stopping on this? Leland is hardly an isolated case- corruption has always been tolerated, as have the presence of the Triads. Philippino Islamic Separatist guns might be a new one, but still- Leland hardly exists in a vacuum. And now he has every reason in the world to sing like a mockingbird. This is a multiyear FBI investigation, with hundreds of agents.

Obviously, they haven't been implicated yet, but is it too early to begin predicting that this may finally be the case that catches Willie Brown and Rose Pak?

Posted by Dizzy on Apr. 03, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

Dear SFBG,
Your recent article about corruption would be amusing if we as a society were not in the midst of a total fucking societal meltdown. San Francisco has long been on the forefront of the demise of the western world. How is it YOU as part of the media do not take responsibility for leviathan called the liberal political Tammany Hall democratic machine you not only helped create BUT kept fed, coddled, and protected by all measures with epic proportions a political a la Madoff Ponzi scheme like carnival atmosphere, with all these so-called democratic politicians with their hands, elbows up to their shoulders in the honey pot. We see the top tier politicians being taken down, but indeed the real problem is not the top level demoncats, no it is the entire system they helped foster, a system that thrives on corruption , protection of salaries, pensions. All on the public dime, and YOU sycophantic fucks are to blame.
How do you act as though this Frankenstein monster just materialized out of no-where? You hypocrite fucks called the liberal media gleefully ignored the signs of corruption, no indeed you created it. All in the name of promoting your pogroms, your socialist, communist, police state, and Orwellian fucking nightmare called San Francisco politics. San Francisco is what authors like Orwell, Zamiyatin, Where your answer to the worlds ills have been and are anti-white male, anti-family, anti-Christian, anti-traditional, and anti- everything that made this nation and at one time San Francisco a great place.
And before you say well, the economy here is in great shape, it must be because of the policies of our great liberal God, all that praying and braying at the eco-Gods must be working. No, all wizard of Oz, obfuscation and smoke and mirrors. You have here an economical Ponzi scheme, with the lowest tier, the tax payers/voters paying all the money, while the Tammany hall called San Francisco politics shucks and jives their way into the pocket books of Mr. and Ms. Joe Average.
So this recent article supposedly scathing is a fucking joke, a way to mimic Pontius Pilot and say see, we do not condone our hands are clean. Where were you when it mattered? Where were the media, and more importantly the local media when these thugs were raping us? Same as now, unwilling to do anything and unwilling to care, as long as these so-called thugs carried the water for your failed, corrupt, and overreaching policies, how many decades were you unwilling to see the signs, open your eyes, be there for the people you were meant to protect. Someone once said the hottest places in hell are reserved for those that do nothing in times of crisis. I agree, drop by drop we have been victims of the San Francisco Tammany Hall political machine and the only entity that has always been the vanguard of the people was the media. Who do we turn to, who do we the people count on to give us the truth? Where are the real advocates of the people? If not the media, if not the lowly artisans of the pen, the wordsmiths that over the eras have provided John Q public with the truth, then who do we turn to.
Who do we turn to when YOU no longer have the will to tell the truth, but instead comfortably sit on the sidelines as the mob rule of SF liberal nonsense and tweak, twist, omit, edit, and project your own fucked up warped agenda as long as it effectuates your approval of how we should all live. How much longer will YOU liberal mentally deranged sociopaths keep beating the dead straight, white male corpse? Who have zero power, but you continue to blame ghosts, spirits of another time. The so-called white privilege you heap onto the guilt ridden self- effacing, weak minded malleable Obama voting hipsters, that buy your lie hook, line and sinker without so much as asking what kind of changer and after hope what is the plan?
So keep your righteous indignation, and why not for once in your supposed counter culture rag life actually do something counter culture and investigate the very political machine that has been wreaking havoc on San Francisco citizens ( the very brainwashed human fodder YOU helped create).
To succinctly put it, shut the fuck up, you hypocrites.

Posted by John on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 1:51 am

Dear SFBG,
Your recent article about corruption would be amusing if we as a society were not in the midst of a total fucking societal meltdown. San Francisco has long been on the forefront of the demise of the western world. How is it YOU as part of the media do not take responsibility for leviathan called the liberal political Tammany Hall democratic machine you not only helped create BUT kept fed, coddled, and protected by all measures with epic proportions a political a la Madoff Ponzi scheme like carnival atmosphere, with all these so-called democratic politicians with their hands, elbows up to their shoulders in the honey pot. We see the top tier politicians being taken down, but indeed the real problem is not the top level demoncats, no it is the entire system they helped foster, a system that thrives on corruption , protection of salaries, pensions. All on the public dime, and YOU sycophantic fucks are to blame.
How do you act as though this Frankenstein monster just materialized out of no-where? You hypocrite fucks called the liberal media gleefully ignored the signs of corruption, no indeed you created it. All in the name of promoting your pogroms, your socialist, communist, police state, and Orwellian fucking nightmare called San Francisco politics. San Francisco is what authors like Orwell, Zamiyatin, Where your answer to the worlds ills have been and are anti-white male, anti-family, anti-Christian, anti-traditional, and anti- everything that made this nation and at one time San Francisco a great place.
And before you say well, the economy here is in great shape, it must be because of the policies of our great liberal God, all that praying and braying at the eco-Gods must be working. No, all wizard of Oz, obfuscation and smoke and mirrors. You have here an economical Ponzi scheme, with the lowest tier, the tax payers/voters paying all the money, while the Tammany hall called San Francisco politics shucks and jives their way into the pocket books of Mr. and Ms. Joe Average.
So this recent article supposedly scathing is a fucking joke, a way to mimic Pontius Pilot and say see, we do not condone our hands are clean. Where were you when it mattered? Where were the media, and more importantly the local media when these thugs were raping us? Same as now, unwilling to do anything and unwilling to care, as long as these so-called thugs carried the water for your failed, corrupt, and overreaching policies, how many decades were you unwilling to see the signs, open your eyes, be there for the people you were meant to protect. Someone once said the hottest places in hell are reserved for those that do nothing in times of crisis. I agree, drop by drop we have been victims of the San Francisco Tammany Hall political machine and the only entity that has always been the vanguard of the people was the media. Who do we turn to, who do we the people count on to give us the truth? Where are the real advocates of the people? If not the media, if not the lowly artisans of the pen, the wordsmiths that over the eras have provided John Q public with the truth, then who do we turn to.
Who do we turn to when YOU no longer have the will to tell the truth, but instead comfortably sit on the sidelines as the mob rule of SF liberal nonsense and tweak, twist, omit, edit, and project your own fucked up warped agenda as long as it effectuates your approval of how we should all live. How much longer will YOU liberal mentally deranged sociopaths keep beating the dead straight, white male corpse? Who have zero power, but you continue to blame ghosts, spirits of another time. The so-called white privilege you heap onto the guilt ridden self- effacing, weak minded malleable Obama voting hipsters, that buy your lie hook, line and sinker without so much as asking what kind of changer and after hope what is the plan?
So keep your righteous indignation, and why not for once in your supposed counter culture rag life actually do something counter culture and investigate the very political machine that has been wreaking havoc on San Francisco citizens ( the very brainwashed human fodder YOU helped create).
To succinctly put it, shut the fuck up, you hypocrites.

Posted by John on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 1:57 am
TL

DNR

(Please disregard the misplaced instance of this comment which seems to be a response to Steven)

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 3:46 am
TL

DNR

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 3:02 am

Typical fucking idiotic, and wannabe erudite loberal fuck, eveything is Bush's fault, republican bahhhhhdddd, demoncat goooood, bahhhhhhhhhhhh. Dude, please fucking crawl back unde your rock, please everyone disregard this tolerant, intolerant liberal. Funny liberals the so-called tolerant are the most intolerant.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2014 @ 8:32 am

could it be gun control for us 99%ers but not the politicians and their supporters?

Posted by sftparty on Apr. 21, 2014 @ 9:33 am

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