SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An undercover FBI agent who spent nearly four years getting close to Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow said the former Chinatown crime boss, on trial for racketeering and murder, gave the nod to a slew of crimes committed by his friends and associates.
The agent, who posed as an East Coast mafioso named David Jordan, took the stand for his second day of testimony Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer closed the courtroom to protect his identity, but reporters could watch the proceedings via live video broadcast with Jordan hidden from view.
Chow is accused of 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 to murder fellow gang member Jim Tat Kong. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Jordan told the jury that while partying with Chow at the karaoke bar Kabuki in April 2011, Chow got very close and began rubbing him down, presumably to check for wires, before admitting that he sanctioned Jordan's criminal involvement with other Tong members who answered to him.
"At one point he said, 'I'm not involved in any criminal activity anymore but I know and approve of what's going on in the streets,'" Jordan said. "He came very, very close, to the point where I felt his mustache in my ear, and said it."
But the recording device that Jordan was wearing did not pick it up.
Jordan said he began laundering money with Chow's associates George Nieh and Kevin Siu in February 2011. Chow, now 55, was Nieh's and Siu's "Dai Lo," Cantonese for a respected elder and underworld slang for crime boss. Jordan testified that he could not work with Nieh and Siu without Chow's blessing.
Shortly after forming that partnership, Jordan said, he gave Chow his first envelope of cash - about $1,000. Chow refused the money, but Jordan insisted, saying he wanted to show the Dai Lo "respect."
Prosecutors played a recording of the exchange.
"Thank you, bro," Chow said.
Jordan: "You have one more brother who will take a bullet for you."
Chow: "I love you."
Jordan: "I love you too. I'm going to be working with George and Kevin and we're going to take care of you.
Chow: "That's the family way."
When Siu and Chow had a falling out in July 2011, Nieh and Jordan discussed replacing Siu with Alan Chiu, another Tong member.
"I mentioned it to Dai Lo and he said he'd think about it," Nieh told Jordan in a taped conversation. "If he's OK, I think he'll bring him to dinner. Once Dai Lo says OK then I'll explain to him."
A few days later, as Jordan ate dinner with Chow and Nieh at the R&G Lounge, Chiu showed up, and Chow excused himself to have a cigarette outside.
Nieh, Siu and Chiu, all of whom were arrested with Chow in 2014, pleaded guilty to various drug, money laundering and conspiracy charges.
Jordan also implicated Chow in the 2013 shooting death of gang member Jim Tat Kong, whom Chow is charged with conspiring to murder. Kong was a member of the Hop Sing Tong, a gang to which Chow also belonged.
In a recorded conversation, Chow told Jordan: "He's [Kong] trying to take over the Hop Sing Tong," and said Kong was harassing younger members and intimidating elders to vote for him. Chow told Jordan he publicly denounced Kong at a Hop Sing Tong meeting as "no longer my brother."
Chow also was upset that Kong had slept with the wife of another Hop Sing Tong member, who had fled to China to escape the authorities. "When he back in China you fuck his wife and he has a kid, you know, that is not my rules," Chow said to Kong.
Jordan testified that Kong's sexual misdeed was the "greatest violation" of Chow's principles.
The day after Chow denounced Kong at the meeting, one of Kong's men called him to say, "'I'm always in your corner,'" Chow recounted to Jordan in a recording. "'He's not my Dai Lo, you know.' And that was his [Kong's] own boy."
"Someone's going to smoke him," Jordan said on tape. "If some fucking punk came in and started fucking with and beating up elders, I would go ballistic."
Chow brushed off the comment.
"It's all good, you know," he said. "In the gangland, their own nature would take care of their own."
Two years later, Kong was found shot dead in Mendocino.
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