Criminal Law - POSTED: 2015/07/02 08:25
An ex-California state senator pleaded guilty Wednesday to a racketeering charge in an organized crime and public corruption case centered in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Leland Yee could face a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in October after entering the plea to one count of conspiracy to engage in racketeering as part of his campaign committees.
He appeared relaxed as he entered federal court in a dark suit and red tie, smiling and chatting with people in the audience. He left the courthouse without talking to reporters.
The FBI arrested Yee and 19 others in 2014 during a series of raids, one of which targeted a Chinese fraternal organization. Yee was accused of soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for providing help from Sacramento.
The FBI also alleged that the San Francisco Democrat, who was running for secretary of state at the time, conspired to connect an undercover agent with an international arms dealer in exchange for campaign contributions.
Yee's arrest was among a series of legal cases involving Democratic state lawmakers in 2014 that damaged the Legislature's image and led to reforms. Sen. Ron Calderon was also indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges.
Calderon has pleaded not guilty. Sen. Rod Wright was convicted for lying about living in his district and sentenced to three months in jail.
"Today's news turns the page on one of the darker chapters of the Senate's history," Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León said about Yee's plea.
Yee previously pleaded not guilty to bribery, money laundering and other felony charges.