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Anti-Game Senator Gets 5 Years in Prison for Political Corruption and Gun-Running

"This is a serious, serious injury to a governmental institution," judge says.


Former Democratic California State Senator Leland Yee, who was an outspoken critic of the video game industry, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison on gun trafficking and political corruption charges.

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In handing down the sentence today in court, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said Yee's actions represented an affront to the democratic process.

"The crimes that you committed have resulted in essentially an attack on democratic institutions," Breyer said to Yee, according to a courtroom report today from San Jose Mercury News. "This is a serious, serious injury to a governmental institution."

Yee asked for leniency, saying he was "ashamed" of his actions and hoped to make things right somehow, someday with friends and supporters. He also lobbied the judge to allow him to serve his time at home to care for his ailing wife, but it wasn't allowed.

"I have taken full responsibility for my actions and crimes I have committed," Yee said. "That will haunt me the rest of my life."

The prosecution sought an eight-year sentence. They described Yee in court documents as a person who was "willing to betray the trust of those who elected him" and "to sell his vote to the highest bidder."

Prosecutors claimed Yee accepted checks and "bags of cash" from undercover FBI agents to pay off his campaign debts and to assist in funding his bid to become secretary of state. As for the arms trafficking claims levied against him, prosecutors said Yee attempted to orchestrate a deal with an undercover agent whereby he would arrange to ship "high-powered weaponry" from rebel groups in the Philippines in exchange for money.

Yee was arrested as part of a sting operation in March 2014 in San Francisco. This was the result of a multi-year undercover FBI investigation into Yee for his involvement in making deals with agents who posed as everything from mafia members to businessmen.

Before these charges came to light, Yee was already a controversial figure. In the wake of the December 2012 schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Yee criticized gamers and the industry at large.

"Gamers have got to just quiet down," Yee said at the time. "Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest."

Yee is perhaps best known to gamers as the man who put forth the much-publicized violent game law that the United States Supreme Court struck down in 2011.

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