Lawyers: Internal FBI financial probe triggered removal of agent in California corruption case



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SAN FRANCISCO — A lead FBI agent in a sting that produced criminal charges against a state senator and 19 other people was removed from the case over unspecified financial improprieties, lawyers for one defendant said.

In court documents filed Thursday, lawyers for defendant Keith Jackson argued that the unidentified FBI agent showed "outrageous" behavior in the sting, including lavishing the probe's targets with tens of thousands of dollars for lawful actions.

The filing says an internal investigation involving the undercover agent was revealed in a footnote in a 2012 wiretap request in the corruption case. The footnote cited an FBI review "related to the financing and financial record-keeping" by the agent in the Chinatown sting, the filing says.

A second wiretap request in 2013 revealed that the internal FBI probe resulted in the agent being removed from the sting operation, according to the filing by James Brosnahan and other defense attorneys.

No further details on the allegations were included in the filing.

Jackson is a former San Francisco school board president and fundraiser for state Sen. Leland Yee, who was also charged in the FBI investigation of alleged organized crime and political corruption in San Francisco's Chinatown.

The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco refused comment on the filing, which seeks more information about the FBI agent in question.

Federal authorities arrested Yee, Jackson and other defendants in March.

Prosecutors charged Yee with accepting bribes and conspiring to connect an undercover FBI agent with an international arms dealer in exchange for campaign contributions. Prosecutors charged Jackson with gun-trafficking and public corruption. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Jackson's attorneys argued in their filing that undercover FBI agents gave Jackson tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees and other payments for lawful actions as part of a wide-ranging effort to entrap him and others.

The FBI agent removed from the case by the FBI also "initiated discussions of guns sales, offered to facilitate a drug transaction, and solicited Mr. Jackson to assist with an alleged murder for hire of a fictitious victim," the filing states.

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