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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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FBI Paints Conflicting Portraits of Shrimp Boy

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An undercover FBI agent who investigated organized crime in San Francisco's Chinatown testified Tuesday that former crime boss Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow never turned down an illicit payoff.

The agent, alias David Jordan, linked Chow to the 2013 shooting death of fellow gang member Jim Tat Kong. Jordan said Chow was angry at Kong for trying to take over the Hop Sing Tong presidency.

"It was the first time I saw Mr. Chow extremely, extremely agitated, talking so openly about vengeance," Jordan said in court. "Mr. Chow said Mr. Kong was involved in a power move in the Hop Sing Tong and he was not happy about that. He publicly denounced Mr. Kong and said, 'He is no longer my brother,' and Chow said that when he withdrew his support for Mr. Kong there would be people on the street lined up to take vengeance upon Mr. Kong."

Another undercover agent, who introduced Jordan to Chow, testified that Chow insisted that he had turned away from crime and was bent on reforming his life.

This agent, known as Jimmy Chen, said Chow told him he wanted to finish writing a book about his life, and if that did not enable him to "make it," he could go back to the "shady business."

Jordan, who was entrenched with Chow for nearly four years, testified Tuesday that he paid off Chow for introducing him to criminal associates, with whom Jordan conducted such business as buying guns, laundering money and selling drugs.

Chow is on trial for running the Ghee Kung Tong, a long-established Chinese fraternal organization, as a criminal enterprise that trafficked drugs, guns and stolen goods. He also is charged with ordering the murder of his GKT predecessor Allen Leung in 2006, and conspiring in Kong's murder. If convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Chow served prison time in 1978 for armed robbery and was sentenced in 2000 to 24 years for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, murder for hire and a slew of other crimes. He was released in 2003 for testifying against his former boss, the leader of the Hong Kong-based gang Wo Hop To.

To protect his identity, Jordan's testimony took place in a closed courtroom, but media and members of the public could see the proceedings through a live video broadcast, with Jordan's image off camera.

Jordan posed as a foul-mouthed East Coast Italian mobster collecting revenue from his family's illegal sports gambling ring and running its marijuana growing operation in Northern California. He was introduced to Chow through Chen, who told Chow he'd been doing business with Jordan's father for many years.

Chen's closed-courtroom testimony portrayed a markedly different Chow.

When Chen tried to talk about stolen alcohol and counterfeit cigarette deals, he said, Chow seemed more interested in discussing the autobiography he was writing.

He'd often say that money wasn't important to him, and advised Chen not to participate in criminal activity. "Money is not a big deal as long as one is happy," he told Chen.

Chow was heard on a recording saying that he counted on his book's success to keep him from relapsing into his past lifestyle. "I would get back in the business anytime, but my freedom is very important to me at this time. I'm just one step away. If I truly am not able to make it, I will go back into the shady business," he told Chen.

But Jordan said Chow already was involved in shady business by accepting envelopes full of cash each time Jordan closed an illicit deal.

"I paid him money for facilitating relationships to conduct illegal activity with his associates," Jordan said under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen. "Mr. Chow would say ad nauseam, 'No, no, no, I didn't do anything. You guys are doing bad things, I don't know about it.'"

"And did he take the money?" Frentzen asked.


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