Leland Yee, Keith Jackson get trial date
Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee and political consultant Keith Jackson were given a June 1 date in federal court in San Francisco Thursday for the start of their corruption trial.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said jury selection in his Federal Building courtroom will begin on June 1 and opening statements and testimony will start on June 22.
Yee, 66, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and Jackson, 49, a former San Francisco school board president, are accused of conspiring to solicit contributions for Yee’s mayoral and secretary of state campaigns in exchange for political favors by the senator.
The trial will also include weapons charges against Yee, Jackson and two other men: Jackson’s son, Brandon Jackson, 28, of San Francisco, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan, 29, of Oakland.
The four men will be the first to go to trial among 28 people named in a wide-ranging 228-count indictment that also includes racketeering and organized-crime charges against San Francisco Chinatown association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and others.
Breyer has not set a date for the trial or trials of the remaining defendants. The two Jacksons and Sullivan would be included in one of the future trials as well because they are also accused of a racketeering conspiracy to commit crimes such as drug dealing and money laundering.
In the weapons charges to be tried in June, Yee and Jackson are accused of conspiring with the late Daly City dentist Wilson Lim in a never-completed deal to import guns illegally from the Philippines.
Other firearms charges to be presented to the jury in June accuse the two Jacksons and Sullivan — but not Yee — of selling guns without a license last year to an undercover agent who was posing as a Mafia member.
Jackson’s attorney, James Brosnahan, argued unsuccessfully that the corruption and gun charges should be separated into two trials. “It’s a political case,” Brosnahan argued, referring to the alleged campaign contribution conspiracy:
“The jurors shouldn’t have guns in front of them. You have a right to make political contributions and you have a right to petition the government.”
While rejecting that request, Breyer did rule that an alleged murder-for-hire plot would not be included in the June trial because mention of it could prejudice the jury against Yee, who is not accused of participating:
“I’m simply trying to deal with what I think is undue prejudice that outweighs the probative value of the case.”
Breyer said. In the never-completed murder-for-hire plot, the two Jacksons, Sullivan and defendant Rinn Roeun are accused of intending that a supposed enemy of the undercover agent would be killed in exchange for $25,000.
Breyer previously announced in November that the corruption charges against Yee and Jackson would be heard in the first trial, but did not say until today whether additional charges would be included. Prosecutors estimated the trial could take two months, while Brosnahan estimated five months.
Breyer ordered all defendants and their lawyers to return to his Federal Building courtroom for another pretrial hearing on April 30. He said that if any defendants file challenges to the search warrants that authorized wiretaps in the case, he will consider those motions on that date.