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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Murder Charges Added|to Shrimp Boy’s Plate

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Former Chinatown gang leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow pleaded not guilty Friday morning to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the course of running a criminal outfit.

Federal prosecutors handed out a revised indictment Friday morning accusing Chow of murdering businessman Allen Leung in 2006 over an unpaid debt.

After Leung was shot dead in front of his Chinatown import-export shop, Chow assumed leadership of the Ghee Kung Tong, the longstanding Chinese fraternal organization formerly headed by Leung.

The indictment also claims that between 2011 and 2013, Chow encouraged the killing of Jim Tat Kong, a former friend and fellow member of the Hop Sing Tong gang. Kong, whom Chow accused of sleeping with another friend's wife and trying to take over the gang was found dead on Oct. 17, 2013.

Chow has already been indicted on charges of running the group as a criminal enterprise that trafficked guns, laundered money and sold drugs and stolen goods. He was rounded up along with 27 other defendants, including former state Sen. Leland Yee, in a raid on March 2014 as part of a five-year undercover FBI investigation into political corruption and racketeering.

Yee ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and all other charges against him were dropped.

Chow could face the death penalty if found guilty of Leung's murder. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen earlier this week asked U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to postpone Chow's upcoming racketeering trial because all death penalty-eligible charges must be approved by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, even if prosecutors do not intend to seek the death penalty.

Breyer refused to delay the Nov. 2 trial, balking at the idea of Chow sitting for prison for what could be more than 90 months while prosecutors await Lynch's review.

"The defendant's right to a speedy trial and his right to counsel of his choosing would be severely impacted by a continuance of the case," Breyer said, noting that Chow's chief attorney Tony Serra has 25 other cases he had to put on hold to accommodate the November trial.

Breyer said the charge for Leung's murder in the course of racketeering would have to be tried separately, opening up the possibility of a double jeopardy argument if Chow is acquitted on the other racketeering charges.

Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Kwok Gheung "Shrimp Boy" Chow, 55, born in Hong Kong, served seven years in prison for a 1978 robbery conviction. The year after he was released, he was charged with 28 criminal counts, many involving violence or attempted violence, and served three more years.

In 1992 he was arrested again on racketeering charges, and was sentenced to 24 years in 1995. He got out early after testifying against his former boss.

He refused to take a plea deal in July.

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