Meet the Calif. State Senator Destined to Be Parodied in the Next Grand Theft Auto Game (UPDATED)


Possibly speaking from experience?
Credit: Steve Rhodes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Maybe political embarrassment comes in threes? Oh who am I kidding? As if politicians feel embarrassment.

Anyway, a third Democratic state senator in California in recent months has been charged with crimes. Leland Yee, who represents the San Francisco area in the state Senate, and is running for Secretary of State, has been indicted for public corruption as part of a massive Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operation in the city.

Details are still sketchy, as there's a series of raids going on in the area today connected this investigation. The San Jose Mercury News notes that Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a well-known gangster in the city, was also caught up in the raids. They provide his background:

Federal law enforcement officials have been chasing Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow for decades, branding him one of the longtime Bay Area leaders of a Hong Kong-based criminal syndicate called the Wo Hop To. Chow's criminal rap sheet dates back to 1978, and includes multiple federal racketeering indictments that have included allegations of attempted murder, murder-for-hire, gun trafficking and other crimes.

Chow was originally indicted in a federal racketeering probe that targeted the alleged leader of the Chinatown gang, Peter Chong. At one point, Chow cooperated with federal law enforcement officials against Chong, who had fled to Hong Kong after being indicted on racketeering charges but was later extradited and eventually convicted in San Francisco federal court in a case marred by setbacks and delays. Chow's original 1995 sentence of 24 years was lessened to 11 years as a result of his cooperation, and he has been out of prison for the past 10 years.

That Yee might possibly be connected to organized crime drew the eye of tech site ArsTechnica and other gaming sites. Lee, it turns out, was a major force behind the law to criminalize the sale of violent video games to children, a law that was ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2011. The site notes some of Yee's quotes on protecting children from pretend gangsters and animated violence:

Through it all, Yee remained a staunch defender of the idea that the state should aid parents in making violent games harder for children to access. He has given numerous statements over the years to that effect. "Plain and simply, the current rating system is drastically flawed, and here is yet another reason why we need legislation to assist parents and protect children," Yee told in 2006. "This is the same technology the armed forces use to help soldiers kill the enemy. All we're saying is, 'Don't sell it to kids,'" he told The San Jose Mercury News in 2008. "When you fight the good fight for a cause you know is right and just, and it's about protecting kids, you don't ever regret that," Yee told The Sacramento Bee in 2012.

Since we don't know what Yee's accused of, I don't want to rush to directly connect him to Chow. If the FBI does accuse him of having a direct connection to Chow as part of this corruption indictment, we can look forward with how a game like Grand Theft Auto might take advantage of this apparent hypocrisy.

UPDATE: The details of the FBI complaint have been released here (pdf). Yee stands accused of a fraud scheme and of conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license as part of an effort to get donations to pay off debts from his failed run for mayor of San Francisco. Though it sounds a little sexy, the report makes it sound like a political consultant named Keith Jackson was pushing this forward.

UPDATE II: Reading much further down the complaint indicate Yee is much more directly involved in arranging a gun deal than indicated in the summary toward the beginning.

For those keeping score, the other two California state senators (both Democrats) caught up in current crime scandals are Ron Calderon, accused of taking bribes to pushing certain legislation, and Rod Wright, who was convicted of perjury for lying about living in his district.

Outside of California, Patrick Cannon, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., (also a Democrat) was arrested today for allegedly taking bribes.

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  1. Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. Asian gangsters have as cool of nicknames as Mexican Gangsers. That is as good as “El Chap” that the feds caught a couple of years ago.

  2. Lee, it turns out, was a major force behind the law to criminalize the sale of violent video games to children, a law that was ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2011.

    SoCon socon Socon SOCON SoCon socon Socon SOCON SoCon socon Socon SOCON

    1. I have a feeling that SIV and Bo could have a John/MNG-style debate on this issue


    Patrick Cannon, who was elected mayor of Charlotte just five months ago, has been arrested after a four-year FBI sting that caught him taking bribes. According to the DOJ, “between January 2013 and February 2014, Cannon allegedly accepted from the undercover agents over $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room, and use of a luxury apartment in exchange for the use of his official position.”

    Good, good.

    And for months FBI stings have been taking down Democratic California state senators, the latest of them being Leland Yee, who is (nobody laugh) apparently tied to “infamous Chinatown gangster Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow.” The resignations have cost California Democrats their supermajority in the upper house.

    And even better.

    1. If it wasn’t for those darn republicans, they could get things done in California!

  4. Please tell me that “Shrimp Boy” is a reference to his sexual predilections…

    1. Chow was convicted of racketeering involving male prostitution.

    2. I have no idea what that is and am blocked from looking. But if it is any way related to homosexuality, no way. Gangs are nearly always hyper macho and consider homosexuality to be worthy of a death sentence.

      1. To lick or suck on someone’s toes.

        It’s not gay specific. I first heard about it from a straight, female coworker.

        1. Okay. Maybe that is what it means.

    3. You likes the Asian boys Jesse?

      1. Huh, I just think him having a nickname referencing a predilection for sucking toes or having his toes sucked would be funny.

        To directly answer your question: not especially, but much more likely with southern and south eastern Asian guys.

    4. I was just wondering how he came by that name.

      My experience is that the kind of crowd that uses nicknames of that sort is generally pretty ignorant and backward. The deeper in the swamp you go the more people you meet named ‘Hamburger’, ‘Trigger’, ‘Cheater’, ‘Moon’, etc..

      Oddly enough, every time I meet someone with a name like that I ask them what their given name is and then I make it a point to call them by that. I have never had one say so, but invariably I can tell that they appreciate the respect.

      1. I distinctly remember noting that the few times I watched A&E’s ’48 Hours’ show.

        Nine times out of ten the cops would be looking for people named for common 7-Eleven products; stuff like ‘Slurpy’ being on the loose until ‘Cheetos’ ratted him out, hence solving ‘Twinky’s’ murder.

  5. “two California state senators (both Democrats)”

    Is there any other kind in California?

    1. One or two.

  6. Bear in mind that the State Senate still has to vote to expel them should they be convicted of these charges.

    For now they have refused to expel Rod Wright because he has yet to exhaust his appeal. Such upstanding public servants we have in Sacramento.

  7. and is running for Secretary of State

    Indicted member of the state majority may get to oversee elections. Votre fraud, just a myth!

  8. Scott, you win the internet today with that headline.

  9. Shrimp Boy Chow and the Wo Hop To.

    Best band name EVER!

  10. “I don’t want to rush to directly connect him to Chow.”

    I do. Yee is criminal gangster scum.

  11. I’ve updated! He’s accused of conspiring to traffic in illegal gun sales in order to pay off campaign debts. I could totally see that as a GTA storyline.

  12. Apparently in Penna. one could walk up to a legislature and give him, say $10,000 in cash and it would be perfectly legal as long as he or she doesn’t agree to vote a certain way in exchange for the cash. He can of course vote the certain way but not as a discoverable quid pro quo.

  13. Apparently, Shrimp Boy is nothing like Lobster Girl.

  14. Irony: Rabid gun-control pusher indicted on firearms trafficking charges.

    “Why are anti-gun people so violent?” is a meme for a reason.

  15. How come they never investigate whitey, eh?

  16. Really? So why didnt I ever think of that?

    1. Are VPN scams not as lucrative as international gun smuggling?

  17. This is the guy who force 2 major pistol manufacturer to stop selling in California due to the idiotic and unworkable microstamping law. So the company stop sending them to be certified in California.

    So what he’s really doing is to make guns illegal in California to make his gun more profitable.

  18. It’s funny how many “news” and “political information” organizations are completely ignoring what has turned out to be a very significant story. The most rabid gun-control state politician in CA (Leland Yee, D-San Francisco) is busted for dealings with organized crime, including conspiring to facilitate the buying and smuggling into the U.S. a large quantity of, among other things, full-auto goodies (machine guns) and shoulder-fired missile weapons systems. And yet outfits like CNN don’t consider that to be news. And, ironically, the most recent item at containing Leland Yee’s name is this one from January:…..-violence/

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