Chow ‘Shrimp Boy' defense rests, jury to get case early next week

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) After two months of trial, the jury in the racketeering and murder case of Chinatown tong leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow in federal court in San Francisco is due to begin deliberating on a verdict early next week.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer told jurors today, "You will get the case for decision on either Monday or Tuesday."

The announcement came after defense attorneys rested their case Tuesday following testimony by five final witnesses. In all, the defense presented a total of eight witnesses, including Chow himself, who took the stand for three days last week.

Prosecutors called more than 40 witnesses during the first several weeks of the trial, which began Nov. 9.

Prosecutors are scheduled to present rebuttal witnesses Wednesday morning and possibly one additional rebuttal witness Monday morning. Breyer told jurors that closing arguments will begin no later than Monday afternoon and possibly on Monday morning.

Chow, 55, is accused of racketeering conspiracy and the 2006 murder in aid of racketeering of Allen Leung, who preceded him as the leader of the Chee Kung Tong fraternal association.

He is also charged with conspiring in the murder of another rival, Jim Tat Kong, in 2013, numerous counts of money laundering and conspiracy to buy and then sell stolen liquor and cigarettes.

Prosecutors allege Chow ordered Leung's murder, and then, after becoming the chief of the tong, ran a faction of the group as an organized-crime enterprise between 2006 and 2014. The purportedly stolen goods were supplied by undercover FBI agents in a multi-year sting.

The defense claims Chow renounced crime after completing a federal racketeering and gun trafficking sentence in 2003 and has devoted himself to community service since then.

Chow testified last week that he had nothing to do with the two murders and said he vowed to give up crime after three days of meditation at Ocean Beach in San Francisco in late 2003 or early 2004.

"I changed myself... I take a vow, I said what I mean," he told the jury.

Chow admitted receiving money from an undercover FBI agent who posed as a Mafia member for four years, but said he tried to refuse it and believed the cash was a gesture of love and respect.

The agent, identified only by the pseudonym of Dave Jordan, testified he paid Chow $60,000 in about two dozen payments in compensation for Chow's introductions to tong subordinates who allegedly laundered money and bought and sold stolen goods.

In another development today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down an emergency appeal by Chow for an order requiring disclosure of the identities of that agent and two other agents.

A three-judge panel denied the request in a brief order, saying that Chow's lawyers hadn't shown that the case warranted the unusual intervention of an appeals court in mid-trial.

Still pending in the case is a defense motion before Breyer for a mistrial on grounds of his alleged hostile treatment of the defense.

Chow claims Breyer violated his right to a fair trial by making disparaging remarks to defense attorney Curtis Briggs in front of the jury during his cross-examination of two prosecution witnesses, and then by intervening frequently on the side of prosecutor William Frentzen during his
cross-examination of Chow.

Breyer has not said when he will rule on that motion.

Chow's first witness today was anthropologist Bennet Bronson, who testified about the history of tongs and their roots in China.

Bronson said that in San Francisco, the Chee Kung Tong warred with a rival tong in 1892 and 1893, but said, "I know of no instance of the Chee
Kung Tong being involved in any kind of violence after 1893."

When Frentzen asked about Leung's murder, Bronson answered, "I did not see this as being a tong war. I see it as someone being murdered."