SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A member of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow's gang testified Tuesday that the Chinatown crime boss ordered him to murder, rob, break legs and commit arson.
Andy Li, a member of the Hop Sing Tong, a San Francisco gang headed by Chow, pleaded guilty in 2014 and in September this year to conspiracy, dealing guns and drugs, illegal possession of firearms and illicit marijuana cultivation.
Facing more than 55 years in prison, Li said prosecutors made no promises about the sentence he will get in exchange for testifying against his former boss.
Chow is accused of running the Ghee Kung Tong, a long-established Chinese fraternal organization, as a criminal enterprise that trafficked in drugs, guns and stolen goods. He is also charged with ordering the murder of his GKT predecessor Allen Leung in 2006, and of conspiring in the murder of former Hop Sing Tong leader Jim Tat Kong. If convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Li said he joined the Hop Sing Tong in 1991, when he was 16, after he got in a fight with members of another gang, the Suey Sing, who threatened him and his family.
Li said his father arranged a meeting with Chow because Chow was considered a leader and "shot caller" in Chinatown. Chow ordered him to join the Hop Sing Tong and to pay the Suey Sing gang $10,000 for injuring one of its members and landing another one in jail, Li said.
He said the first job Chow ordered him to do, with others, was an armed robbery of an illegal gambling den in Sacramento.
"Chow asked us to do this," Li said. "We got jewelry and some money."
Years later, Li said, he was asked to help carry out a murder-for-hire plot against a rival gang member in Boston. Li said Chow asked him to go to Boston and help find the target, but the plot was foiled when law enforcement intercepted one of his accomplices.
Li said he never received the $10,000 he was promised for an arson job that left him with a burned face, hand and body.
Chow ordered Li and his partner to burn down a fellow gangster's house in the early 1990s, he said. Flames that erupted earlier than expected set his partner on fire and forced Li to break through a window to escape and use his shirt to beat the fire off his partner's body.
Li spent three months recovering in the hospital, and Chow never paid a dime of his medical expenses, he said. But after that incident, Chow promoted Li to an underboss, giving him, at 18, the power to recruit his own crew of teenage gangsters to make money for the crime syndicate.
Li described other orders from Chow that he failed to carry out, including orders to rob a Buddhist temple, break a man's legs in Pacifica and stab the member of the rival Vietnamese Tenderloin gang in a laundromat.
"Chow ordered me to do the stabbing," Li said. "I had my kids do the stabbing, but one of them got scared and dropped the knife."
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ended the day's proceedings after Li had testified for about an hour, and told the jury not to consider Chow's crimes as evidence of guilt for charges alleged in this trial.
Undercover Agent Ends Testimony
Before Li took the stand, Chow's attorney Curtis Briggs spent most of the day continuing to grill the undercover FBI agent who spent four years infiltrating Chow's organization, in a second day of cross-examination .
Briggs played audio clips of the agent, known as David Jordan , encouraging Chow and his alleged co-conspirators to drink alcohol at a dinner. Briggs asked the agent if he tried to weaken his targets' judgments by getting them drunk before persuading them to break the law. He also accused the FBI agent of coaxing Chow and his associates to deal in stolen goods to further his own career.
Briggs played an audio clip of Jordan telling a fellow FBI agent, "This will keep us going for a while," referring to his newly secured deal to sell illegal cigarettes and tobacco with Chow and his associates.
Jordan said in court that he was referring to all the work the case agent would need to do to coordinate logistics and secure approvals for the FBI to engage in the trade of illegal goods.
On redirect, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen played three video clips showing Chow accepting envelopes of cash from Jordan in January, February and April of 2012.
Jordan said Chow never hesitated to accept the cash and that statements Chow made, such as, "You guys are up to bad things," and, "I don't want to know what you guys are doing," showed that Chow knew the money came from illegal acts.
On Monday, Briggs tried to portray the FBI agent as a criminal instigator who encouraged the murder of Chinatown gang leader Jim Tat Kong, whom Chow is accused of conspiring to kill.
In his final words of testimony, Jordan said that he and the government wanted to control the hit on Kong, and that if he had secured the murder-for-hire job as intended, Kong "would probably" still be alive today.
Bizarre Juror Behavior
At the end of Tuesday's proceedings, Breyer warned attorneys on both sides that he observed one juror frequently requesting recesses and engaging in "bizarre" behavior throughout the day.
"He seemed to be perspiring a lot," Breyer said. "Then I noticed this afternoon he doesn't seem to be paying attention."
The judge said Juror No. 4 was seen "rapidly pacing" outside the jury room, acting nervously and slouching low in his chair and staring at the ceiling during testimony.
Frentzen said his co-counsel noticed the juror seemed to be sleeping toward the end of Tuesday's testimony.
"Of course I'm concerned about losing a juror, but also concerned about a juror not paying attention and essentially disrupting the flow of a case in terms of when recesses are called," Breyer said.
Chow's lead attorney, Tony Serra, said the issues began Tuesday and that whatever is bothering the juror may be resolved by Wednesday.
"Lawyers aren't doctors," Serra said. "My view is we wait and see how he is tomorrow."
Frentzen agreed that the judge should wait and see.
"My observations are not medical opinions, but they are accurate observations," Breyer said, adding that it's important to have a record when potentially troubling trial issues surface.
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