Ex-state Sen. Yee, former SF school board president ask for short sentences in corruption case

The defense attorneys for a former state senator and an ex-San Francisco school board president convicted in a federal corruption case asked a judge Wednesday to hand down shorter-than-recommended sentences for their clients, according to court records.

Keith Jackson, 51, admitted last July to arranging bribes with undercover agents to fund former state Sen. Leland Yee’s political aspirations.

Yee, 67, was convicted of racketeering alongside Jackson in a political corruption case.

In a filing Wednesday, prosecutors recommended Yee serve eight years in prison. His attorneys, in response, asked for a below-guideline sentence of about four to five years, court records show.

Prosecutors also asked a federal judge to sentence Jackson to 10 years in prison next week, according to court filings.

Jackson’s defense attorneys requested he instead serve a six-year sentence, considering his history as a “dedicated activist with over two decades of community involvement,” according to court filings.

Both men are set to be sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer.

In their sentencing recommendations, prosecutors painted dark pictures of the two public figures.

“One could question whether accumulating money in order to remain in public office and retain power and public stature is not in some ways worse than routing campaign donations to cars, vacation homes, women, etc.,” prosecutors wrote about the former state senator. “This is particularly the case where Yee was engaging in official duties in a corrupt manner in order to hold on to public office.”

As for Jackson, prosecutors called him a “racketeer.”

“Jackson has engaged in corruption of the political system through a wide variety of schemes,” prosecutors said.

In a letter of support for himself, Jackson told the judge that if he were given a second chance, he would return to the principles he held in 2011, before he met a group of businessmen who turned out to be undercover FBI agents.

Jackson said his life changed. He reportedly turned to booze and expensive dinners and “became like a gerbil on a wheel moving faster than ever,” Jackson wrote in the letter that was filed alongside the sentencing memorandum.

“I thought they were legitimate businessmen,” Jackson wrote. “I thought they were a blessing and how lucky I was that they chose me to work with … I should have walked away from these businessmen, who of course turned out to be government agents in this case, but there was a part of me that wanted to believe the fantasy of something good.”

Both Yee and Jackson admitted to a series of wrongdoings from 2012 to mid-2014, all uncovered by a yearslong FBI undercover investigation that originated with Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

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