Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy' Chow's testimony ends in SF courtroom

Testimony of one-time Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow wrapped up Wednesday at the federal courthouse in San Francisco.

Chow spent hours under cross examination by federal prosecutor William Franzen.

"We were treated to a mode of cross examination which is really uncommon," said defense attorney Tony Serra. "It's called confrontational."

Franzen hammered away at what Chow knew about any money laundering or illegal alcohol, drug or cigarette dealings of his associates and whether he ordered or had knowledge of them. Chow repeatedly said he did not know about any illegal activity.

Mr. Franzen asked, "Are you too naive to know?" Chow replied, "I'm not too naive to criminal activity. I'm too smart to stay away from activity."

Chow told jurors when anyone started talking about things he didn't want to know, "Lots of times I want to change the conversation," Chow explained. "I say, 'Oh come on let's buy me a hooker.'"

The prosecution repeatedly asked, if Chow was not involved in any illegal activity, why did he get money from people who were involved in illegal activity? Chow always had the same answer, "love and respect".

His attorney explained to reporters. "You get the red envelope. It's part of the tradition of the Chinese culture to give the elder people money gratuitously out of love and respect," Serra said. "Those are the key words."

One of the more heated exchanges came during the last question to Chow on the witness stand.

Franzen read a transcript of a conversation Chow had with an undercover federal agent. He then asked, "Who (expletive) around with your investments?" Chow responded, "I don't have any investments. I'm talking about my past the way I carried myself. If people (expletive) around with me they're..." "Gone," Franzen asked.

"Gone," Chow replied.  Franzen pounced. "Who'd you kill Mr. Chow?" Chow answered, "No one." Franzen asked, "Then who's gone? Who's gone Mr. Chow?" Chow said, "It's just an expression."

The day ended with Chow's longtime girlfriend, Alicia Lo, taking the witness stand. She told jurors she met Chow on Chinese New Year in 2008, and explained she was the one in the relationship with money.

When asked if there was anything unusual about dating Chow, Lo replied, "He had an ankle monitor. He had to sleep on the left side of the bed to charge it at night."

Defense attorney Serra said he planned to file a motion for mistrial based on "judicial impropriety and manifestation of bias", setting the stage for an appeal if needed.