Part Three

On January 12th, "Sam" reported to John McKenna that he was "into" Wayne Yee. Cornell Lee worked more or less on his own during this assignment. He would come and go from Honolulu every few weeks or, if something special came up, he would hurry over to San Francisco. His home was in Hawaii anyway, but of course he had to give Wayne the impression that he was a successful gangster with lots of hits, extortions, and other criminal activities to look after in his own ballpark, not to mention gun purchases. Thus, the Gang Task Force didn't see much of him. When he came, he came to work.
McKenna was therefore doubly excited when Lee called on the 12th. He told the investigator that he had met with Wayne at his (Lee's) hotel, where they had dinner in the dining room. During the conversation, it was determined that Wayne had decided to introduce "Sam" to the gun dealer, whom he identified as Humberto Rodriguez in Santa Rosa. Wayne claimed that Bert was out getting weapons. "As soon as that's done, we'll have a face-to-face meeting, the three of us," he promised, "but remember one thing, Sam; I won't touch the guns. I'll just be there to see that all goes well." Then he stated that another friend of his, Jeung (probably a Joe Boy, Jeung Him Tom) had an automatic weapon he would sell to "Sam" if the price were right.
Relaxing over dinner with his new business associate, Wayne--the man who knew everything, in his own estimation--next discussed the Golden Dragon homicide. "It was a very precise operation done by young people and directed by older people," he claimed. "You know, the gangs are breaking down into small, cellular-type groups in order to confuse the police. I run the group, you know." Then Wayne bragged that his attorney, Doron Weinberg, and Weinberg's partner, did his legal work in exchange for supplies of cocaine. "My case in Sacramento is weak," he added, "and Weinberg is representing me and Brian Lee on the Sacramento arrest."
In reviewing Lee's report on the dinner with Wayne, McKenna took private umbrage at Wayne's untrue remark about Doron Weinberg and his partner. "That's what you get when you lend a helping hand to a snake," he thought. With regard to cellular breakdown in the gangs, that was no news to McKenna. He already understood that not only were the gangs organized into cells, but also there were distinct groups scattered in different parts of the city who didn't even know who the other groups were. This was particularly true of the Joe Boys. On that score, Mckenna would agree that Wayne knew what he was talking about.
Later that night, January 12th, Wayne and "Sam" drove up to Santa Rosa, in "Sam"'s rented car, to visit with Bert. The tattoo artist, per his earlier plans to expand the business, had set up another shop in the community several miles north of San Francisco.
Leon Crouere and Paul Bertsch of the Force conducted a stake-out of the Rodriguez house and watched Wayne and "Sam" come out at 9 P.M.. They followed them back to San Francisco, arriving about 10 at the Sheraton at the Wharf. They couldn't contact Lee to find out what had taken place.
While Wayne organized his deals with undercover agent Cornell Lee, his sidekick, Gary Pang, kept busy on his own. On January 17, 1978, Dan Foley and Fred Mollat stopped by Nihonmachi Leisure Center in Japantown. Information had come to them confidentially that Gary had been extorting the owner and had broken the back part of a pinball machine. They asked the owner, Mutsahiko Murashige, better known as "Muts" (pronounced "moots"), if any of his machines had been broken.
"They get broken all the time," Muts replied, pointing to a jagged glass edge on the front of one machine. "Not the front," clarified Foley, "I mean the back." Muts didn't seem to want to talk about it. The cops knew from the informant that Gary had intimidated Moots with frightening threats.
The story was that Gary had been playing the machine and got a "special," which is worth about $24. Gary thought the machine hadn't given his money's worth of pinballs in return and, as if that weren't gall enough, the damn thing didn't even register his jackpot! Gary complained to Muts, but Muts didn't believe him and wouldn't come up with any money.
"O.K., Muts," muttered Gary, "it'll cost you a lot more if you don't pay me for the games I won."
Muts shook his head in an angry "No!"
That's when Gary smashed the back of the pinball machine. "If you call the police, you better get 10 of 'em all the time because I'll have my boys walk in one at a time and break a machine every single day! I'm the leader of a big gang."
Muts paid him off.
The cops finally convinced Muts to make a police report on the incident. A warrant for Gary was obtained, and he pled guilty.
Out for bigger things than pinball "specials," Wayne, meanwhile, had set up a meeting in Santa Rosa between "Sam" and Bert, but not for guns. "Sam" had communicated that he was in the market for powerful explosives. He understood that Bert could supply dynamite and blasting caps through his newly expanded "tattoo" operation. The meeting was slated for the 26th of January.
Cornell Lee secreted a tape recorder in his rented vehicle and picked up Wayne on the 26th. Lengthy telephone conversations in the previous day or two had led Lee to believe that he had so ingratiated himself with Wayne that more revealing comments than ever might be forthcoming in the intimacy of the car. Those had to be on tape. Lee's primary goal in these dealings was, at that point, the pursuit of the Golden Dragon case. Everything Wayne said in the confidence of his developing friendship with "Sam" would have to be documented in some way for study by the Golden Dragon investigators.
During the drive to Santa Rosa, Lee asked Wayne, "Does Bert have the fuses?"
"No, because they're easy to get. Just the caps are hard to get. The cap itself will fuck you up."
In response to a question about his concealed-weapon case pending in Sacramento, Wayne said: "My name is mud because of my bust with Brian. I'm getting a lawyer from Sacramento. I've been stalling for time. I haven't entered a plea. They can't do nothing to me anyway. I'm going to get probation for a misdemeanor. In Brian's case, he isn't worried because he's going to get into a drug diversion project."
"What does Bert think I'm going to do with the dynamite?" asked Lee.
"He doesn't care...He has the dynamite at his tattoo shop. Actually, if you really want to get something going, you need someone here all the time as a liaison to take the initiative...Can you send someone over? What stops me from doing things is money. News comes to me all the time. I've been working in the past so I haven't had time to make money. I've got to clean up the past and the books--you know, accounts, to write things off. I'm working on opening up a disco. I've got all the loyal people to work."
Lee let him talk like this for awhile, then interrupted: "I need to get things going with Bert before I go into other areas." Wayne told him it was a matter of obtaining the goods and stressed again his suggestion that "Sam" needed a good representative in San Francisco capable of making final decisions. "I can be the liaison," he said, "but I can't make the final decisions [for you]."
Wayne went on to talk about being glad that Bert had moved up to Santa Rosa because there was too much heat in San Francisco. "Being married and having five kids is the best front anyone can have."
Wayne regretted his vain efforts to get Asian girls to do porno movies and discussed the possibilities of high-class pornography. Then he talked about the gambling houses in Sacramento and next about his ability to get the youth groups together in San Francisco.
"How loyal are your people?" Lee wanted to know.
"I wouldn't involve my people into anything too sophisticated until they get older. Only simple stuff to get a feel."
Lee pushed on. "They're not afraid to wipe out anybody?"
Wayne stated: "You know what's been happening. They are not afraid. In fact, what I'm worried about is that they do it so quickly, and they don't mess around. When they want to come get you, you've had it. I mean, Golden Dragon is the example. Then the other shooting, too. That's what worries me because it makes things hot. Real hot. The only thing I worry about internally is there are a couple of people who are too aggressive, too arrogant. This turns people off. They abuse their power. They demand and don't negotiate. One can demand if he has money or other alternatives. Otherwise, you can't.
"I'm trying to get my people to have a better image. They look like hit men. I dress conservative, neat. The kids look like underworld. My image is straight, although many people know otherwise. I give people a lot of breaks. When I draw the line, there is no more talk 'cuz I know they are 'diving.' Once negotiations are off, I'm planning the next step. They are going to get hurt. I won't commit myself outwardly other than to say I hoped things could be worked out. That's too bad. Nothing said to incriminate me. The power of fear is systematic [sic; i.e, systemic], starting a small earthquake then working my way up according to reactions."
Later, Wayne mentioned that "we smoke weed, drop, whatever, in the presence of Bert's kids. They don't give a shit. He's crazy. The kids respect Bert. They don't turn on him. Bert knows they do stuff, but they better not do it in his presence."
He turned the conversation to narcotics, perhaps sensing approval of his operation and philosophy from "Sam." He asked "Sam" about his narcotics ties "as far as getting something going." He continued: "I have a lot of contacts just waiting to be serviced. Only coke, weed, and pills. No hard stuff. I'm aiming at Asians. No one has control of the market out there, only freelancers. I know more people than the freelancers, but I don't have the stuff."
As they neared Bert's shop in Santa Rosa, Wayne said Bert had seen the sticks of dynamite and "they were packed real nice."

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2000 Brockman Morris