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.

252 Comments

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.

No Caption Provided

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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 252 comments about this story
252 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Calikidd86
Calikidd86

Guy fought to ban guns, and the whole time was helping smuggle them and using his influence and connections for the asian gangs out here in the bay area. Quite the hypocrite.

Avatar image for tlpina
tlpina

This MoFow wanted to ban GTA while he was living it.

I can't wait to hear the stories of when this guy hits gen pop... hahahahahaha...

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

At least he has to serve time in jail actually. You won't believe the kind of crooks that get away with killing and corruption in other parts of the globe. Just search for Senator Menem if you want an example.

Yee, I hope a bubba of every etnicity makes love to your corrupt ass.

Avatar image for deactivated-58bf2c0ad76b2

As much as I don't advocate harsh punishment, the fact that a state senator receives only five years in prison for knowingly betraying public trust and abusing his role and responsibility as a government official, speaks volumes about our priorities.

If the poor are shot to death for petty theft or imprisoned for life for dealing in drugs, while political corruption is handed a comparably paltry sentence, why exactly do people buy into the democracy-is-life rhetoric?

Avatar image for csward
csward

Amen, justice is finally served to this nutjob. How can the people of California elect people like this? Do they really like this guy?

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

Don't f with games s#& ti*s!!! you got what you deserve :)

Avatar image for TimmyDKJR
TimmyDKJR

Ha! Leave our games alone!

Avatar image for Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

It's funny to see him holding a copy of GTAIV as one example of why video games are bad. Yet he did something worthy of an Asian mob guy would do in a GTA game.

Grats on being a shining example, Mr. Yee!

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

The amount of $ spent on this alone is INSANE!

Avatar image for blaise0fgl0ry
Blaise0fGl0ry

I have no use for idiotic Hippocrates like Yee. Throw him down a hole. He doesn't deserve to see the light of day!

Avatar image for Raphy_Turtle
Raphy_Turtle

Honestly the video game violence BS boils down to this as far as I'm concerned:

Saying games like Grand Theft Auto will make someone more violent is like saying playing Monopoly will turn you into a Bankster;
Or playing Risk will turn you into a War monger. Heck you might as well say kids who play with toy swords, toy guns or even action figures that depict any kind of weapons, will turn you kids violent...

Ever since the dawn of human civilization we've been playing games that turn around or substitute violence. Violence IS in our genes and while there is still a lot of violence in the world, it is lower than ever in history statistically speaking. Part of why that is possible is that through society we've substituted ACTUAL VIOLENCE by games. From children toys, to sports, to video games or even frikin board games; we've found ways to vent our aggressive/competitive nature into non threatening mediums. Sure MMA and Golf aren't exactly the same but the end result is the same: After a 'session' you've vented your excess energy into something satisfying.

So violent individuals are just people who can't control themselves either because they're just inherently screwed up (violent psychopaths/sociopaths) or/and because of an abusive childhood. There's also the case of a repressed person taking on a lot of frustration never letting it out anywhere productive until they explode, but that boils down to ''screwed up''.

Avatar image for linkyshinks
linkyshinks

Lock him up and throw away the keys. This scum deserves to rot in jail with rats nibbling at his privates.

Avatar image for aegis_kleais
Aegis_Kleais

You can get charged for Political Corruption? How the hell is there ANYONE in our Government NOT behind bars? Must be a VERY loose concept of "corrupt".

Avatar image for csward
csward

@aegis_kleais: I think it has to be provable in court, like how the FBI set this guy up in the sting operation.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@aegis_kleais: Ha no doubt. Damn near everyone in Washington is selling votes for "Donations". The FBI should just camp out the capital for a month and they would have all their work done for the decade.

Avatar image for MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

Geez 5 years? that's it???

I woulda thrown the book at him......

I don't buy it Yee, you're a disgrace, take your licks like a man......10 years federal prison....that's what my sentence would be...

Avatar image for hermitkiller
HermitKiller

xDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

The gun stuff is part of another prosecution - with hopefully see him serve even more time.

And please make sure he is put in regular prison, not these day spas reserved for politicians.

Avatar image for Raphy_Turtle
Raphy_Turtle

@jenovaschilld: Nah he'll for sure end up in luxury prison. Politicians would get decimated in regular jail.

Avatar image for slickwilly06
slickwilly06

@Raphy_Turtle: and for two years tops

Avatar image for jokeyjoey2014
jokeyjoey2014

HAHAHA what a fucking comeuppance!

Avatar image for e3man01
e3man01

This Mother Fucking Hypocrite can rot in jail forever as far as I'm concerned. To attack an industry and group of people you THINK you know about, that are non-violent, yet YOU were the one selling violent weaponry. So whose the menace to society again? People who attack the gaming industry, talking about violence, need to REALLY study history. We, as a species, have been violent forever. Has NOTHING to do with games, music, movies or TV. Seriously, if that were the case, how do we explain the violence throughout all cultures in history; gaming only started in the late '70's.

Avatar image for Purpledust
Purpledust

''That will haunt me the rest of my life." Ya right.

Avatar image for i-rock-socks
i-rock-socks

Video games made em do it

Avatar image for Lyulf
Lyulf

The real irony here is this twatwaffle's hard-core anti-gun stance, and then he gets busted for gun trafficing.

Avatar image for csward
csward

@Lyulf: Anything for the highest bidder $$$. Integrity be damned.

Avatar image for CptJohnnyRico
CptJohnnyRico

Who knows if this is even true, he could have been set up, i don't trust what happens in politics nowadays its a gong show of corruption and lies.

Avatar image for PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@CptJohnnyRico: It does seem a little too poetic.

Avatar image for goodgamesguy
GoodGamesGuy

Good.

Avatar image for sevuz7
Sevuz7

What's this real gaming news on GameSpot?

Avatar image for mkeezay22
mkeezay22

US politics at their finest, a bunch of crooks telling us what's moral, the government in almost every area, politicians, scientists, military, financial commit atrocious acts and then have the nerve to tell us our games are too violent, I wonder how many people the US ripped to pieces with drone strikes and 50 cal machine guns, I guess it's okay to kill innocent people if you call them collateral damage.

Anytime a politician opens his mouth the best thing to do is just look at the bills they've helped pass and the statements they've made regarding certain legislature or just some of their speaking while in congressional meetings, these are some of the most morally bankrupt people on Earth, and I have no doubt that there was another agenda behind even his gaming battle, one thing you learn watching politicians is they never tell you the true intent of their actions.

This man was trying to tell us these video games turned people into killers, at the same time he was selling weapons used to kill people, hell I'm sure those guns aren't being used for target practice, you buy an illegal gun to commit illegal acts, just like you use a stolen car to rob a bank, it's about being anonymous, this man should be getting more than 5 years, and I bet he serves it at a country club prison.

Never trust a politician.

Avatar image for stonythegreat
stonythegreat

@mkeezay22: I believe that's why politicians were added to the saying "Do you know how to tell when a lawyer and a politician are lying?" Their mouth is moving.

Avatar image for mkeezay22
mkeezay22

@stonythegreat: Yeh exactly, it's pretty sad when we don't trust any of the people that govern us, although for some reason there are always a few people who defend them and think they are super patriots for doing so,

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

@mkeezay22: You put so eloquently what I said earlier.

Avatar image for yoda101280
yoda101280

Heh, I always knew all that anti game nonsense was a smoke screen, blustering trying to throw the feds off his scent.

Avatar image for Geogyf
Geogyf

the irony is strong here.

Avatar image for Cruxis27
Cruxis27

@Geogyf: I'm so glad you saw that! You must be a very insightful person

Avatar image for Geogyf
Geogyf

@Cruxis27: thanks :P

Avatar image for MrZentropa
MrZentropa

LOL What a d-bag, but hey that's almost all politicians and why this two party BS keeps failing the citizens, they're two sides of the same corrupt coin. Would be funny to have a special assassination mission of this fool in GTA.

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

@MrZentropa: Better be careful what you say. Somebody from the Department of Fatherland Security might show up at your door.

Avatar image for dnsfw_jamus
dnsfw_jamus

the next GTA should feature a character based on him....

...to the point that they get sued for him being so similar... and have it get thrown out of court for being ridiculous.

Avatar image for veryDERPY
veryDERPY

push their agenda on everyone else. 0 faith in what they preach.

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

Given all the lies and corruption over there in Washington, they have zero right to tell any of us to give up our violent games.

I hate to say this, but the United States is one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism around the world. We've bombed so many innocent people, toppled so many fairly elected governments, spread so much lying propoganda, and this man has the gal to tell me games like GTA should be banned? Government is a joke these days.

Avatar image for yankeeallstars
YankeeAllStars

@psx_warrior: So true, this isn't the land of the free, it's the land full of stupid laws and hypocrisy. We're the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon against humanity (not once, but twice!!!) and yet now our government goes around the world telling everyone to disarm their nukes.

Avatar image for hughthehand88
HughTheHand88

@psx_warrior: eugh stfu.

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

@hughthehand88: Intelligent response.

Avatar image for Mezatron
Mezatron

Me thinks he doth protest too much.

Avatar image for outcastbeta
outcastbeta

I played and beat all 3 games he is holding and I haven't trafficked or shot one gun.

Avatar image for decoy1978
decoy1978

He was an also anti gun douche bag who was caught gun running!