More Charges Show Weak Case, Gangster Says
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Former Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow pleaded not guilty to an additional racketeering charge in Federal Court Wednesday.
The charge was added by a grand jury in a superseding indictment issued last week.
"We read this additional government monopoly of charges as a manifestation not of their strength but of their weakness," Chow's attorney, Tony Serra, told reporters outside the federal building. "He's been added to counts against other parties. They obviously want to target him. They obviously have a weak case or they wouldn't target him in this manner. So we are delighted to confront them. You wait and see, there will come a time when my client will be vindicated."
Chow was arrested in March along with 28 others, including suspended State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, after an undercover investigation by the FBI led to charges of money laundering, unlicensed firearms dealing, fraud, narcotics, murder for hire, wire fraud and conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property. Chow is the leader of the Chinese-American organization Ghee Kung Tong, and is accused of making introductions between agents posing as east coast mobsters, laundering money obtained through gambling and drug sales and profiting off of criminal acts.
Yee allegedly agreed to help undercover agents buy assault weapons and rocket launchers in exchange for campaign donations. The embattled senator also stands accused of accepting money for political favors.
His political consultant, Keith Jackson, is accused of agreeing to traffic firearms for undercover agents, sell drugs and even perform a murder for hire. Jackson's son and associates have also been charged.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to all charges on Monday. Yee is expected in court Thursday.
Another of Chow's lawyers, Curtis Briggs, scoffed at the added racketeering charge.
"It's only one count of racketeering but it incorporates other people," Briggs said. "Even if he didn't know them, it incorporates all of their charges. So he's got over 200 counts now. This is an investigation that has gone completely awry. It went awry years ago. What they're doing to my client by adding these racketeering charges is a sign of weakness and a sign of desperation to try to justify this investigation."
Briggs was adamant that Chow would not cooperate with federal prosecutors and turn government witness.
"My client won't testify and we don't have any faith in the federal government or the FBI, we wouldn't cooperate with them," Briggs said.
Serra noted the probability that other defendants will make deals with the government.
"Unfortunately in the federal system, trial by snitch is the main thrust in many cases," Serra said. "I think yes, there will be some that will resolve their case and become cooperating witnesses. I base this not on information but on statistics, but we're ready to confront it. I have an abundant, strong, unfettered belief that my client at the core participated in no criminal acts."
Serra added that the government has had it in for Chow since he served time in the 1980s and 1990s for robbery, assault, attempted murder, money laundering and racketeering, and emerged from prison a reformed man.
"He had an epiphany, he went straight and the government couldn't stand his popularity in the community," Serra said, adding: "He is dying to tell the truth and that gives him an inner strength."