When FBI raids across the Bay Area arrested more than 20 people in March, including state Sen. Leland Yee and Chinatown alleged reformed crime boss Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, the charges mentioned a laundry list of contraband sold, bought or handed over to FBI agents in the course of a long undercover investigation.
The trove included pistols, rifles, drugs, cash and at least one bulletproof, or ballistic, vest. At the time, court documents also noted that the vest had been given to an undercover FBI agent by one of the case's defendants and Chow confidante, Andy Li.
Li, who once described to an FBI agent ways to kill people, was allegedly the enforcer for Chow's Chinatown Ghee Kung Tong -- which the FBI has called a criminal gang -- and had an ongoing friendship with Sheriff's Department Sgt. Michael Kim, according to new filings in the federal case, as first reported in the San Francisco Appeal.
A ballistic vest that was the property of the Sheriff's Department had been left in Li's possession by Kim, according to the filing.
"A member of the San Francisco County Sheriff's Office decided that he wanted to leave a ballistic vest belonging to the Sheriff's Office at the work place of Ms. Li -- Li's wife -- because he didn't want it in his car," noted the filing in reference to declarations made by Li, his wife and Kim.
It is unclear if the vest left is the same vest given to the FBI agent.
Kim, who has said he left his vest at Li's, is currently under investigation by the sheriff's internal affairs unit, according to the department. What prompted the investigation and when it began, the Sheriff's Department would not say.
Kim, who has been employed by the department since 1999 and works in jail administration, has not been put on leave during the investigation.
According to the filing, Kim has had a longtime connection with Li and is a former gang member.
Li told one undercover agent on more than one occasion that he had a "good friend who worked in the Sheriff's Office," and that "officer had been a member of ... Chow's organization when he was young," court documents say. He called that friend "Mike."
Li tried and failed to get the undercover FBI agent posing as a Mafioso to meet with his friend and told him that the "officer would not do anything to stop or arrest" Li and the undercover agent regarding their "illegal businesses."
In November 2012, according to court exhibits of CHP incident reports, Li was with Kim when he flipped his truck in a drunk driving incident.
This is just the latest law enforcement misstep linked with the Yee case. This month, court documents revealed that an undercover FBI agent in the yearslong investigation was disciplined and taken off the case for financial misconduct.
Capt. Lisette Adams, who heads the union representing Sheriff's Department management, said she isn't sure what department policy is on spending time with people who may be involved in criminal activity, but noted that common sense should steer officers away from such encounters.
"But the key is," she said, "don't do anything stupid."
Kim did not return calls for comment.
Yee, Chow and 21 others charged in the case face a variety of charges, including extortion, arms trafficking, murder-for-hire schemes, drug trafficking and racketeering.