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By Zach Arnold | August 6, 2014
On July 29th, we wrote about a superseding Federal indictment in San Francisco naming disgraced California state senator Leland Yee, Yee’s fundraising consultant Keith Jackson, and famous Chinatown mobster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. One of the allegations in that Federal indictment is that both Yee & Jackson tried to extort money out of multiple individuals who wanted to make sure that the California State Athletic Commission was not sunsetted. Sunsetting the Athletic Commission would have allowed the Department of Consumer Affairs to regulate combat sports in hiding with zero transparency. This isn’t something that DCA would be unhappy about.
The indictment claimed that individuals related to CSAC and “the Mixed Martial Arts industry” were targeted by Yee & Jackson for extortion. Naturally, the next question we asked was whether or not the UFC was the target of the supposed shakedown. After all, the Fertitta Empire contributes a lot of money to California politicians and to Sacramento lobbying firm Platinum Advisors LLC for legislative affairs regarding the Athletic Commission, internet gambling, and tribal casinos. There are monied interests at stake.
The indictment from a grand jury relating to the Athletic Commission is based on Individuals A & B being allegedly approached by both Leland Yee & Keith Jackson in early March of 2013. The indictment claims that Yee was directing Jackson to solicit money from A & B to Keith Jackson Consultancy and to also solicit campaign contributions for Yee’s Secretary of State bid. The indictment was specific in noting that the Athletic Commission regulates “Ultimate Fight Championships.” UFC was the only promoter directly named for CSAC regulation.
In any sort of criminal indictment involving allegations of extortion, follow the money. That’s what we initially tried to do despite the fact that the indictment alleges that the individuals being extorted were supposedly told to pay Jackson rather than make a direct contribution to Yee initially. In our initial search of California contribution records, we discovered that Station Casinos LLC donated $1,500 to Leland Yee’s Secretary of State campaign in December of 2013. The Federal indictment claims that Yee’s extortion campaign over CSAC was from March of 2013 through December of 2013. Nine months.
As we soon discovered (in our August 2nd article), Leland Yee was gifted tickets by the UFC for their April 20, 2013 San Jose Arena event. This event took place nine days before an April 29th, 2013 Sacramento state senate meeting to discuss SB309, the Athletic Commission extension bill. The Federal indictment claims that Yee and Jackson were telling individuals A & B that he wasn’t going to vote for SB309 unless Jackson was supposedly paid for “heavy lifting.” At that April 29th, 2013 senate meeting, Yee wasn’t singing the praises of the Athletic Commission… but he was curiously singing the praises of Andy Foster.
After seeing this display of support, we decided to re-read the superseding Federal indictment one more time to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. It turns out that reading the indictment again has given us a new… perspective on how many people may have been supposedly targeted.
On page 129 of the 148-page PDF file available for download from the US District Court site, the last paragraph in the section on the allegations of CSAC extortion slyly states:
During the time from April 29th, 2013 and the final vote on SB-309 in the Senate [ed. -- late September 2013], and in furtherance of the conspiracy, Jackson sought the assistance of another individual who had an interest in extending the term of the CSAC in raising money for Yee’s Secretary of State campaign.
That means a third person was possibly extorted. But why isn’t this third person named Individual C? Perhaps Individuals A & B have testified in front of the grand jury that led to the superseding Federal indictment. The third person may be one of many who may have given the Feds information about supposed solicitations from Yee & Jackson. The Federal indictment, as crazy as it is on the surface, is kept to a minimum on details & evidence. The real material will surface in discovery and at trial.
We may never find out who Individuals A & B are unless the grand jury testimony is unsealed by a judge. Given the notoriety of this case, I fully expect that there will be a push by big media outlets to get documents unsealed. If that happens, then we’ll find out a lot more about who was allegedly targeted.
But if the judge doesn’t unseal the grand jury testimony and the defendants in this case cut plea deals, the public may get iced out on just who was supposedly extorted in relation to the Athletic Commission.
Which makes it impossible, right now, to identify who Individuals A & B are. However, there are two obvious questions that must be raised:
- Is there an un-indicted co-conspirator?
- Are we are going to see more Individuals (C, D, etc.) come forward in the case?
If there was a third party allegedly solicited for money by Yee & Jackson, it’s time to look at this Federal indictment from a different angle. We know that the Feds allege that Leland Yee & Keith Jackson had the means, motive, and opportunity to supposedly extort individuals who wanted to keep the Athletic Commission alive. However, it’s not as if the Athletic Commission was something that had been a top priority agenda item for Yee in past years. The Federal indictment presents a story that the Athletic Commission issue may have just been another opportunity for Yee & Jackson to exploit.
The next question to ask is this:
Which individuals, wanting to keep the Athletic Commission alive, could Leland Yee & Keith Jackson have supposedly considered soliciting money & political connections from in exchange for supporting SB309?
As the old saying goes: follow the money. Through the process of investigating various financial records that are publicly available, there are many questions that need to asked — and soon.