Former Califonia senator Leland Yee, who is well known around the gaming community as the senator who wrote a law restricting the sale of violent video games to children under 18 in California, has plead guilty to charges including fraud and racketeering.
These charges, along with a guilty plea, represent a vastly sharp contrast to the Leland Yee that the gaming community knows him as, being a staunch crusader for gun control and prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children, and authoring the infamous AB-1179, which then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law in 2005. This law required clear labeling of violent games above and beyond the ESRB rating labels currently on the front and back of every physically printed entertainment software. It also levied a $1,000 per-occurrence fine against any retailer caught selling violent games to people under 18 years of age. A California judge soon after ruled an injunction against the law for First Amendment violations. It ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled against the law 7-2, citing violations of both the First and Fourteenth Amendments. This ruling was also instrumental as validating “games as art”, with the majority opinion stating:
“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas—and even social messages—through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”
The details of the accusations paint a nasty picture of a politician who was willing to brazenly offer favors in exchange for campaign contributions and broker the sale of automatic weapons to an FBI agent undercover as a mobster, as well as accusations of attempting to extort money from an NFL team owner and MMA organizations.
The guilty plea spares the fallen politician and former San Francisco mayoral candidate the added embarrassment of a trial by jury, as well as keeps many details surrounding the investigation out of the public eye.
Yee is expected to be sentenced in October, and faces up to a maximum of 20 years in prison, and $250,000 in fines.