SAN FRANCISCO — A California state senator charged in a sweeping organized crime and public corruption case centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown was also charged Friday with racketeering.
A federal grand jury filed the additional charge against Sen. Leland Yee, accusing him of taking bribes in exchange for votes in favor of several legislative bills, including one on medical marijuana and another to extend the life of the California State Athletic Commission.
Also charged with racketeering was Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. The grand jury called a Chinese-American association that Chow headed, the Ghee Kung Tong, a racketeering enterprise.
Chow previously pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other charges.
Yee also is accused of accepting bribes and attempting to connect an undercover FBI agent with an arms dealer in exchange for cash. He has pleaded not guilty.
A call to Yee’s attorney for comment on the additional charge was not immediately returned. An attorney for Chow, Curtis Briggs, said he was “completely underwhelmed” by the superseding indictment, which he said lacked new investigative findings or new accusations against his client.
“It doesn’t hold water, evidenced by the fact that they could have brought the racketeering charge in the first indictment,” Briggs said. “We believe that he’s innocent, we’re still very optimistic about his case, and we look forward to the trial.”
Yee was arrested along with 19 others in March during coordinated raids throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The arrests were the culmination of an FBI investigation started in 2006 after Chow left prison and was elected “dragonhead” of the Ghee Kung Tong. The FBI says undercover agents laundered $2.6 million in cash purportedly garnered through illegal bookmaking through the organization.
Experts and many of the two dozen lawyers involved in the case had expected racketeering charges to be included in the indictment unsealed in April. However, no racketeering charged were filed then.