In the upcoming trial of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the question will be: did the one-time Chinese gang leader of the 1980s and 1990s change after his stint in prison or is he guilty of the 140 new counts of conspiracy, solicitation of murder and gun-running charges that undid a state Senator?
The government response is clear, no he hasn’t changed. Prosecutors have filed a 30-page description of evidence they expect to produce in the November 2 trial alleging Chow solicited the murder of rival Allen Leung in 2005 and 2006 and Jim Tat Kong between 2011 and 2013.
The prosecutors oppose a defense request to exclude mention of the two murders during the trial.
Chow was lead defendant among 28 people indicted in 2014 on 230 counts of racketeering, weapons sales, solicitation of murder, money laundering and political corruption.
California Sen. Leland Yee, who snared up in the investigation, faced 13 counts of conspiring with Chow and others to solicit campaign contributions in exchange for political favors and a never-completed international arms deal. Yee, a Democrat, pled guilty in July to a charge of racketeering. He will be sentenced later this month
Allen Leung Murder
Leung, leader of the Hop Sing Tong and “dragonhead” of the Chee Kung Tong, was murdered in his Chinatown import shop in February 2006. The tongs controlled money through property ownership and had received $1 million to resolve a dispute with the Chinese government over seizure of a building in the 1920s.
Chow was a member of both tongs and wanted a share of the money from Leung, but Leung wouldn’t pay, according to the government.
Investigators still don’t know who shot Leung but the government argues that Chow arranged it and was responsible as part of a racketeering conspiracy.
“The murder of Leung was based upon Chow’s desire both to profit from the tongs and to assert control over the tongs,” the prosecutors state.
Jim Tat Kong Murder
The second murder of a gang competitor came in October 2013. This time it was long-time Asian organized crime figure in San Francisco’s Chinatown, was dealing in ecstasy and other drugs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the papers state.
Both Kong and Chow were members of Hop Sing Tong but had a falling out after Chow accused him of having an affair with the wife of another gang member. Chow also also accused Kong of trying to take over the tong through intimidation.
Chow allegedly discussed with undercover agents that Kong no longer had the protection of Chow’s name and was “fair game” to be killed by rivals, the government contends.
Kong fled to Los Angeles in 2012 because he feared for his life, according to the government.
Then a year later Kong was found with his girlfriend Cindy Chen. Both had been murdered. The government has sealed details of the investigation so details will be known only to participants and witnesses.
The government contends it was Chow’s removal of his protection from Kong and his “green light” for others to kill Kong that show the nature of the tong as an alleged racketeering organization.
“The solicited murder of Kong was based upon Chow’s displeasure with Kong related to the tongs,” prosecutors say.
The court papers suggest this is what witnesses will testify about, but it remains to be seen.
The trial commences Nov. 2 before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.
Case: U.S. v. Chow, No. 14-cr-196