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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Frisco Task Force Takes|Aim at Public Corruption

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The FBI and the San Francisco DA have teamed up to investigate public corruption in the wake of a federal probe that took down Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and former state Sen. Leland Yee.

San Francisco District Attorney David Gascon and the head of the FBI's San Francisco office David Johnson announced the task force on Tuesday. The joint effort would be able to tap federal resources and investigators to look further into corruption by the city's public servants.

In addition to the Chow-Yee case - which ended with a conviction for Chow on murder-conspiracy charges this past month and saw Yee plead guilty to a count of federal racketeering for accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents this past summer - San Francisco prosecutors have also filed felony bribery and money laundering charges against three former fundraisers for San Francisco Mayor Edward Lee, two of whom also worked for the city's Human Rights Commission.

"We as San Franciscans can no longer blame the lack of resources for systemic problems that cause the public to lose faith in local government," Gascon said at a news conference announcing the task force. "This today is the beginning of a process to try to short-circuit that. The good old boys, the pay-to-play system that has worked in San Francisco so well for so long has to end. We believe this is the beginning of that process."

Gascon added that his office does not believe the charges filed against the three fundraisers last month is "the end of the road, and that is why we are continuing to see where that takes us."

For its part, the FBI has expended a lot of effort on Bay Area public corruption probes in recent years, including a 2014 indictment of plainclothes San Francisco police officers on charges they entered residency motels without warrants and stole money from suspects.

Johnson said the collaboration will allow for quick decisions on federal or local jurisdiction when and if future charges are filed.

"This type of criminal activity erodes public confidence, undermines the strength of our democracy and if left unchecked, threatens our government," Johnson said.

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