SAN LEANDRO -- A Daly City dentist who served as a linchpin in the federal weapons trafficking case against state Sen. Leland Yee died of natural causes Tuesday at the age of 60.

Wilson Lim, the wheelchair-bound dentist who in his ailing state seemed far from the image of an international gun smuggler as alleged in the case against Yee, died early Tuesday at Kendrick Hospital in San Leandro, his attorney said.

Lim suffered from congestive heart, kidney and liver failure and continually deteriorated since he was hospitalized four months ago, attorney Brian Getz said. Doctors recently told family members the man had two months to live, a prediction that turned out to be true.

"This year was a disaster," Getz said. "Doctors had all but given up on him, and he kept trying to stay alive because he wanted to clear his name."

A dismissal of Lim's indictment will occur after his death certificate is filed, Getz said.

Lim's poor health began in 2011, when he suffered a massive heart attack that left him in a coma. Although he awoke a month later, a psychologist determined he was too mentally fragile to practice dentistry or handle his own financial affairs.

Prosecutors could not be reached for comment.

Lim was one of more than two dozen people charged in the investigation against Yee and Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, the leader of a brotherhood organization in San Francisco's Chinatown.


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The criminal complaint alleged Yee called on his old friend Lim to broker a weapons trafficking deal that could land $100,000 for his secretary of state campaign. Lim was alleged to have connections to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which reportedly seeks to overthrow the Philippines government.

One of Lim's sources reportedly suggested he could get the buyer, an undercover FBI agent posing as a Mafia gangster from the East Coast, Israeli-made assault rifles and possibly up to $2.5 million worth of military-grade weaponry. Lim, Yee and the senator's campaign donation lieutenant, Keith Jackson, were ultimately charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, among other charges.

Though Lim's health continued to decline, prosecutors said that would "have no bearing" on what kind of deal they would offer. While there had been speculation Yee and Lim didn't have the wherewithal to pull off an arms deal and may have been bluffing, an international weapons trafficking expert said the deal had all the workings of a legitimate plan.

Lim ran into significant financial trouble after he could no longer work, and his income dropped from $154,300 in 2010 to $45,000 the next year and finally $18,500 in 2012, according to bankruptcy documents that listed assets that included $5,000 worth of guns.

Lim had no criminal record, but the affidavit showed he was sued by his landlord in January 2011 for failing to pay rent on his San Mateo Chinese restaurant, Club Mango, which had been closed "due to acts of ill-repute and prostitution being committed in these upstairs rooms."

In November, court-appointed bankruptcy trustee Randy Sugarman sold the Lims' Hillsborough home for almost $2.8 million, nearly enough to pay off his $3 million in debt and dismiss the bankruptcy.

Lim donated $2,500 to Yee's campaigns, and another $1,000 from his dental practice from 2009 to 2012. Photos from Philippine newspapers show the pair together at numerous fundraisers, including a Southern California event where Yee announced his run for secretary of state.

Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Contact Matthias Gafni at mgafni@bayareanewsgroup.com.