Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Back issues
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Unproductive Hearing for Charged S.F. Senator

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Reporters chased California Sen. Leland Yee and his attorneys down the hallway in Federal Court Monday morning after little progress was made in his corruption case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins set a new hearing date for April 8, as Yee's attorney Paul DeMeester said they hadn't yet sorted out the collateral for Yee's bond.

U.S. Attorney Susan Badger said the parties "had agreed there would be some real property posted."

Yee was among 22, including notorious Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, rounded up Wednesday as part of an FBI sting. While Yee is charged with seven felonies - one count of conspiracy to traffic firearms and six counts of fraud, Chow faces charges of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, and conspiracy to traffic cigarettes.

Chow's provisional public defender Susan Falk said her office still hasn't found a permanent attorney for Chow, who was led into the courtroom in a yellow jumpsuit and shackles.

"We haven't found anybody yet because of conflicts that have arisen from a past case that involved many of our panel," Falk said.

Cousins asked if it would be possible to get Chow an attorney by Wednesday, and scheduled another hearing for him on April 2.

A onetime member of the Chinatown gang Hop Sing Boys, Chow leads the San Francisco-based Chinese fraternal organization Chee Kung Tong, whose headquarters the FBI raided last week.

Undercover agents had infiltrated Chow's inner circle as part of a five-year investigation. Yee's offices in San Francisco and Sacramento were also searched. A federal affidavit says an FBI agent posed as a member of La Cosa Nostra and used Chow's connections to launder money he attributed to Chow as gambling and drug proceeds.

The agent had allegedly been introduced to Yee through their mutual acquaintance Keith Jackson, a political consultant hired to raise money for Yee's political campaigns. Through meetings with Jackson and the undercover agent, Yee agreed to help the agent obtain guns from Muslim separatist groups in the Philippines in exchange for campaign donations, according to the charges. Yee was apparently $70,000 in debt from his failed bid to become mayor of San Francisco and his campaign for Secretary of State, which the charges ground to a halt last week.

Dressed in a dark gray suit and purple tie, Yee entered the courtroom through the public entrance, flanked by lawyers. He greeted reporters curtly before taking a seat in the front row and conferring with his legal team in hushed tones. After the hearing, he was quickly escorted down the hallway opposite from where reporters had gathered. They chased after him, shouting inquiries of whether DeMeester would be making a statement. After a few minutes, the crowd dissipated, piling into the elevator to catch Yee exiting the building.

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