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As public corruption trial date nears, Leland Yee to appear for 'change of plea'

With former state Sen. Leland Yee's public corruption trial fast approaching, lawyers for him and three co-defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday to change their pleas.

Jury selection for Yee and the others  -- political fundraiser Keith Jackson, his son Brandon Jackson and boxing promoter Marlon Sullivan – is set to begin July 27, with the trial to follow on Aug. 10.

The deadline for pretrial motions had been moved back two days, from Tuesday to Thursday.

However on Tuesday, the posted courthouse calendar for U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, assigned to the corruption case, included an 11 a.m. hearing Wednesday in San Francisco to consider a “change of plea” for the four defendants.

A spokesman for U.S. Atty. Melinda Haag confirmed the hearing but would not say what plea Yee and the other defendants are expected to enter.

“What happens, we will see,” said the spokesman, Abraham Simmons.

Yee was indicted in March 2014 on charges of accepting $62,000 in campaign contributions in return for legislative favors and offering to arrange the sale of machine guns and shoulder-fired missiles to an undercover FBI agent posing as a mob figure.

Racketeering charges were added later, alleging that he attempted to extort campaign contributions from an NFL team owner and supporters of mixed martial arts.

Yee pleaded not guilty and remained in office on paid suspension until his term expired at the end of 2014. His attorney, James Lassart, could not be reached for immediate comment. The three co-defendants have also pleaded not guilty.

The criminal prosecution of Chinatown association leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and 23 others charged in the federal sting is proceeding separately. They are accused of selling drugs and stolen property, and running a money laundering operation between San Francisco and New Jersey.

Twitter: @paigestjohn

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