- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Federal prosecutors have charged a former high-ranking official in California’s veterans affairs department and seven other people in an investigation of alleged bid rigging on public construction contracts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Prosecutors said the investigation that led to the indictment of Eric Worthen, a former assistant deputy secretary in the veterans affairs department, and the seven other defendants was prompted by an earlier probe that ensnared former California state Sen. Leland Yee and San Francisco Chinatown gang tough Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

Worthen, 45, and a second man, Taj Armon Reid, took $12,000 in bribes in exchange for agreeing to help an FBI informant posing as a developer win two state construction contracts - one for residential facilities at a veterans’ home in Ventura, California and the other to remodel a kitchen at a veterans’ home in Los Angeles, according to a federal grand jury indictment filed on Thursday.

Court records did not list attorneys for Worthen or Reid, 46.

The six other defendants are contractors in the San Francisco Bay Area. They each face fraud charges stemming from bidding on a contract for renovations at a building owned by the U.S. Department of Energy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, prosecutors said.

The bid-rigging probe began after investigators intercepted a phone call in a major organized crime investigation in San Francisco’s Chinatown that led to charges against Yee and Chow, prosecutors said. An FBI informant who worked on the Chow case posed as the developer in the bid-rigging investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A federal judge sentenced Chow to two life terms last year after jurors convicted him of racketeering, murder and scores of other crimes.

Yee received a five-year sentence after acknowledging in a plea deal that he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes and discussed helping an undercover FBI agent buy automatic weapons from the Philippines.

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