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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Former State Senator Leland Yee Sentenced To Five Years’ Imprisonment On Racketeering Conspiracy Charges

Co-Defendants Keith Jackson, Brandon Jamelle Jackson, and Marlon Sullivan also Each Sentenced For Related Crimes

SAN FRANCISCO – Former State Senator Leland Yee was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment and Keith Jackson was sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment today for their respective roles in a racketeering conspiracy announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.  Brandon Jamelle Jackson and Marlon Sullivan also were sentenced today; Jackson to 54 months and Sullivan to 66 months, for their respective roles in a separate, but related, conspiracy.  Today’s sentences are the first four to result from the second superseding indictment filed January 29, 2015, in federal court.

The second superseding indictment stemmed from allegations that former Senator Yee, along with 27 other defendants, was involved in a broad array of criminal activity.  All four defendants who were sentenced today had pleaded guilty to one count of conducting the affairs of a racketeering enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d).  Central to the allegations in the indictment is the existence of two criminal enterprises through which some of the defendants engaged in patterns of racketeering (RICO) activity.  Yee and Keith Jackson acknowledged participating in one RICO conspiracy while Sullivan and Brandon Jackson admitted to participating in a related conspiracy.

On July 1, 2015, Yee and Keith Jackson pleaded guilty to using the Leland Yee for Mayor 2011 campaign and the Leland Yee for Secretary of State 2014 campaign to conduct RICO crimes.  According to government filings, the conspiracy involved three different, but related, areas of criminal activity: (1) honest services fraud in which he exchanged official acts for money, (2) a weapons trafficking conspiracy, and (3) money laundering.  Federal wiretaps established in November of 2012 revealed that Yee devised extortion schemes in which he “tutored and directed [Keith] Jackson.”  Yee planned to obtain campaign contributions by leveraging his Senate committee vote on an upcoming decision to dissolve the California State Athletic Commission.  According to the government’s papers, Yee requested campaign contributions from individuals interested in keeping the Commission alive.  In the second scheme, Yee was prepared to vote for or against pending legislation on workers compensation for professional athletes playing in California depending on which competing interest gave him the most money. 

While addressing Yee, Judge Breyer commented during the hearing that the public had to have trust in the integrity of its institutions, but that Yee “abused that trust,” and “did not have that integrity.”   Judge Breyer also said that the fact that Yee’s vote as a state senator was “for sale” was, in his view, “a very serious violation of trust.” 

Keith Jackson, as part of his plea agreement, acknowledged that he participated in the RICO conspiracy with Yee.  Keith Jackson also admitted he committed several crimes to further the conspiracy.  Among the activities Keith Jackson acknowledged he participated in to further the conspiracy are accepting cash and checks for bribes, wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to illegally import firearms and ammunition from the Philippines.

Sullivan and Brandon Jackson pleaded guilty on July 1, 2015, to participating in a second RICO conspiracy described in the second superseding indictment.  As part of their guilty pleas, both Sullivan and Brandon Jackson acknowledged being associated with a San Francisco Chinese American civic association and conducting RICO crimes.  Both Sullivan and Brandon Jackson admitted that between September of 2012 and March of 2014, they arranged the purchase of cocaine and participated in multiple illegal firearms sales.  They also admitted that they discussed with an undercover agent the need to kill an associate of the undercover agent. Brandon Jackson admitted to telling the undercover agent he would gather intelligence and bring a family member from out of state to complete the murder-for-hire conspiracy.  Sullivan admitted he received $10,000 to ensure that the job would be completed.

The sentences were handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge.  Judge Breyer sentenced the defendants as follows:

Leland Yee: 60 months, to begin within the next 30 days, a $20,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and forfeiture of certain property.

Keith Jackson: 108 months, to begin within the next 30 days, 3 years of supervised release, and forfeiture of certain property

Marlon Sullivan: 66 months (including time already served), 3 years of supervised release, and forfeiture of certain property

Brandon Jackson: 54 months (including time already served), 3 years of supervised release, and forfeiture of certain property. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Frentzen, Susan Badger, and S. Waqar Hasib are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon, Kurk Kosek, Ana Guerra, Marina Ponomarchuk, Victoria Etterer, and Lance Libatique.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; San Francisco Police Department Gang Task Force; Oakland Police Department, Criminal Investigation; New York Police Department; and the Mercer County New Jersey Sheriff's Office.

Updated February 25, 2016