Calif. man charged with threatening Sen. Leland Yee

By Don Thompson
The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Santa Clara man was charged Friday, Feb. 15 with possessing assault weapons, explosives, and bomb-making materials after the California Highway Patrol tracked an e-mailed death threat sent to Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco.

Santa Clara County prosecutors charged Everett Basham with 10 felonies, including three counts of illegally possessing assault weapons, two counts of possessing a destructive device, two counts of possessing bomb-making materials, and one count each of making criminal threats, forging, and possessing a fake driver’s license.

He also faces misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed and loaded 9mm handgun in a vehicle.

The 45-year-old Basham did not enter a plea in his first court appearance Friday. His attorney, Jenny Brandt, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

He is being held without bail in the county jail until his next court appearance, set for Thursday.

The complaint alleges that Basham sent an unnamed constitutional officer a threatening e-mail on Jan. 11. He was arrested by the Highway Patrol on Tuesday, and Yee said the arrest resulted from an explicit death threat he received after introducing gun control legislation.

Two of the charges allege that Basham possessed assault weapons with detachable magazines. Yee said Thursday that the e-mail threatened him with assassination unless he stopped pushing legislation to ban so-called “bullet buttons,” devices that permit swift reloading of military-style assault weapons by allowing for the rapid exchange of ammunition magazines.

He is also charged with possessing a shotgun that falls within California’s definition of an assault weapon.

Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin said Friday that the senator has turned over a second e-mail to the CHP, this one sent in August by someone with the last name of Basham. The e-mail is in all capital letters and lays out the writer’s arguments against gun control.

“He’s just making arguments on why the gun legislation is a bad idea, just giving his perspective on it, but there’s nothing in here that’s threatening,” Keigwin said.

The threatening letter in January came from a different e-mail account and was signed by someone using a Vietnamese name, Keigwin said.

Officer Sean Kennedy, spokesman for the CHP’s Protective Services Division, said investigators hoped to complete their search of Basham’s home on Friday, four days after it began.

Searchers were hampered by piles of belongings cluttering the house and mysterious substances that had to be tested to see if they were dangerous chemicals or bomb-making materials, he said.

“Anytime you find a substance or a weapon or anything that makes the hair on your neck stand up, we get out and the bomb squad comes in,” Kennedy said.

No new explosive devices have been found since Wednesday, he said. Those were removed and detonated, while other chemicals were burned in the home’s front yard.

Basham’s computer was also being analyzed to see if it contained threats or other evidence, he said. There was no evidence that anyone other than Yee was targeted, he said, though other state lawmakers have introduced or plan to introduce at least 20 pieces of gun control legislation. (end)

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