Former state Sen. Leland Yee was sentenced by a federal judge in San Francisco today to five years in prison for a political corruption conviction.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer told Yee he was aware of his history of public service, but said, “I don’t feel I can be lenient. The crimes you have committed were essentially an attack on a democratic institution.”
Breyer said citizens must have trust that elected officials will act in the public interest and said, “You abused that trust.”
Yee, 67, pleaded guilty in July to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy to solicit bribes in the form of campaign contributions in exchange for political favors.
He admitted during the plea to receiving more than $40,000 in such payments and also admitted to plotting in a never-completed international arms deal in which weapons would be smuggled from the Philippines.
Prosecutors had sought an eight-year sentence, while defense attorneys asked for a sentence as low as four years and three months in prison.
Yee told Breyer, “I have taken full responsibility for my actions I have accepted and understand the crimes I have committed.”
Prior to his arrest in March 2014, Yee, a Democrat, represented the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County in the state Senate.
He was one of 29 people charged in a broad indictment that included both corruption charges against Yee and fundraiser Keith Jackson and organized-crime charges against Chinatown association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and others.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News