Former California state senator Leland Yee (D), best known to gamers as the architect of a law that sought to prevent minors from purchasing violent video games, has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges brought against him last year. week.
Yee admitted to taking bribes in return for special attention in his role as a state senator, as well as conspiracy to launder money and escort illegal arms shipments from the Philippines to the United States. As part of the plea deal, the DOJ narrowed a litany of charges against Yee down to one charge of racketeering.
Yee faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if a verdict is handed down in October. Three of Yee’s political associates pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy.
Yee was the author and main sponsor of the infamous 2005 California law that sought to criminalize the sale of violent video games to children. The law was struck down by numerous courts before it was finally overturned for good by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 under the First Amendment. The failed legislative and legal effort cost California taxpayers $1.8 million in attorney fees alone.
Through it all, Yee remained a staunch defender of the idea that the state should help parents make violent games more difficult for children to access. He has made numerous statements for this over the years. “Clearly the current rating system is drastically flawed, and here’s another reason why we need legislation to help parents and protect children,” Yee told GameIndustry.biz in 2006.
“This is the same technology that the armed forces use to help soldiers kill the enemy. All we say is, ‘Don’t sell it to children,'” he said. The San Jose Mercury News in 2008.
“If you fight the good fight for a cause that you know is good and just, and it involves protecting children, you will never regret it,” Yee told The Sacramento Bee in 2012.