A few weeks back, we wrote about the indictment of California State Senator, Leland Yee, for federal crimes involving public corruption. The allegations of white collar crimes, such as bribery and embezzlement, were serious enough. However, since that time, the full scope of the federal investigation and the allegations against Senator Yee has become very public. The charges now extend beyond white collar crimes to allegations of federal firearm offenses, federal drug crimes and even murder-for-hire.
According to recent news reports, Senator Yee, the first Chinese-American elected to the California Senate, is one of 29 individuals that have been charged in federal court for their part in an alleged conspiracy. The conspiracy includes allegations of money laundering, wire fraud, murder for hire and drug distribution. According to law enforcement, what the individuals did not know was that they were doing business with federal agents, who were posing as businessmen, pot dispensary owners and members of the Mafia.
Senator Leland Yee reportedly pled not guilty to all of the federal charges filed against him, which includes conspiracy to traffic firearms and taking bribes from an undercover agent. Prosecutors accuse Senator Yee of accepting bribes from an undercover agent who sought to meet with firearms dealers who Yee informed the agents he knew. Senator Yee is also accused of accepting money to connect agents posing as medical marijuana dealers with lawmakers in order to secure political favors.
High profile individuals accused of serious criminal activities, including drug trafficking and federal weapons offenses, need to consult with an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. While everyone deserves a fair trial and there is a presumption of innocence in the U.S. legal system, sometimes, a person's profile in the public can work against them. In such cases, it is vital that counsel make sure their client receives every right to which they are entitled and protect the integrity of the case.
Source: Bloomberg, "California Senator Pleads Not Guilty in Gunrunning Case," Karen Gullo, April 8, 2014