Rocket launchers and movie deals: 11 highlights from the allegations against a California state senator and others


Federal agents load boxes of evidence as part of the investigation in California on Wednesday, March26, 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

California state Sen. Leland Yee was arrested Wednesday as part of a large corruption investigation that was apparently focused on Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a former(-ish) gang leader who has won the nickname game forever. (Yee’s arrest coincided with the arrest of the mayor of Charlotte and the raid of a New York state senator’s office.)

We’re going to focus on the California investigation here because the affidavit is pretty fascinating. There are mentions of rocket launchers, shipping military materials between the United States and China and, of course, envelopes packed with cash. You can read the entire thing here, but here are highlights:

1. Chow the Auteur 

“Chow stated that he had a potential book deal and movie proposition regarding his life. Chow stated the deal was for $3 million. Chow said he did not want to sign the deal, because he wanted control of production of the story.”

2. People are always giving everybody free stuff all of the time

“[F]or a broke person, Chow had a lot of nice clothes and jewelry. Chow explained that he did not understand why people gave him things all the time.”

3. Military-grade tungsten

“Early in the investigation, Chow approached [an agent] and others about schemes to illegally ship what Chow described as ‘military-grade’ tungsten between the United States and China.”

4. Aspirational lifestyle

“Senator Yee stated he was unhappy with his life and said ‘There is a part of me that wants to be like you. You  know how I’m going to be like you? Just be a free agent out there.’”

5. Rocket launchers, things like that

“[An agent] asked about the availability of shoulder fire missiles or rockets. Senator Yee responded ‘I told him about rocket launchers and things like that.’”

6. The unsuccessful mayoral campaign

“Senator Yee then mentioned that if he won the mayoral position, ‘we control 6.8 billion man, [expletive deleted].”

7. Advocating patience

“Senator Lee believed Chow should ‘just chill’ right now. Then, if things calm down for a while, Senator Yee would ‘be ready to step in.’”

8. Do you accept checks? 

“[An agent] told [Yee's associate Keith] Jackson if Senator Yee provided the proclamation…[an agent] would write a check.”

9. Apparently yes, yes you do 

“Senator Yee and Keith Jackson spoke on the telephone. Senator Yee instructed Jackson to ‘start collecting the checks from [an agent] ‘now.’”

10. We also accept cash

“[An agent] took an envelope containing $11,000 in cash and put it on the table in front of Senator Yee and Jackson…As Senator Yee and Jackson got up to leave, Senator Yee made a gesture to Jackson toward the envelope in cash, but Jackson did not see the gesture. Senator Yee then walked over to Jackson, tapped him on the back, again gestured to the envelope, and said “[t]ake that.”

11. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, undercover agent

“The senator…he said, it’s just the letter thing is once you put it in writing…And so he said, phone calls, whatever he needs to do, he, he’ll, he’ll do that. And he also wanted me to tell you that, he, he said he told me to tell you that, whatever, whatever you want, [an agent], you got it. And so he just, he wants you to feel comfortable with that. You know, he just, he sees this as a long-term relationship.”

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · March 27