An undercover FBI agent continued testimony yesterday in the racketeering trial of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow in federal court in Francisco about payoffs he allegedly gave Chow for introducing him to associates who would carry out crimes.
The agent, identified only by his pseudonym of Dave Jordan, testified that Chow, the leader of the Chee Kung Tong association in Chinatown, would protest the payments but nevertheless accepted them.
Chow, 55, is accused of racketeering conspiracy, the 2006 murder of his predecessor as tong leader, conspiring in the 2013 murder of another rival, money laundering and conspiring to receive and transport stolen goods. The jury trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is expected to continue though February.
The agent posed for nearly four years as an east coast Mafia member who wanted to launder profits from illegal gambling and marijuana operations and sell stolen liquor and cigarettes. He was inducted into the Chee Kung Tong as a consultant in 2012.
In one example of an alleged payoff, the agent told the jury that on March 13, 2012, he paid Chow $5,000 for introducing him to tong members who bought 300 bottles of supposedly stolen cognac and shipped it from New York to San Francisco.
Prosecutor Ralph Frentzen played a secretly recorded tape of a conversation between Jordan and Chow on that date in which Chow says, “No, no, no.”
“You can say no and that’s fine, but I want you to take this. You got the business,” Jordan is recorded as saying. The agent testified that he then gave Chow the $5,000.
The purportedly stolen liquor and cigarettes were provided by the FBI. The recording device was hidden in the agent’s clothing.
Prosecutors contend Chow ran a criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong as a racketeering enterprise and that he knew and approved of the illegal activities carried out by his associates.
Chow’s lawyers say he reformed after serving a previous sentence for racketeering and gun trafficking, that he didn’t commit any of the charged crimes and that the tapes don’t show that he did. They say he is now dedicated to turning Chinatown youth away from crime.
The agent also testified today about recorded excerpts of ambiguous or oblique comments made by Chow, and said he believes they show that Chow authorized and was aware of the tong members’ crimes.
In one recording, Jordan and Chow are heard talking about an associate who allegedly worked on the liquor deal. Chow says the associate is “always hustling.”
When asked by Frentzen what that was a reference to, the agent answered, “criminal activity.”
In another 2012 recording, Jordan, Chow and another associate, George Nieh, are discussing a planned deal in which a tong member would sell stolen cigarettes.
Early in the conversation, Chow says, “I don’t want to know about that.” Later, however, he comments, “Just tell her, she can’t cut into your market.”
At the start of his testimony on Tuesday afternoon, the agent said he had the impression that when they first met in 2010, Chow believed he was being recorded, but that Chow “let his guard down a little bit more” in conversations after about a year and a half.
Fentzen also played a recording of May 3, 2012, in which Jordan allegedly talks to Leslie Yun, described by the agent as the treasurer of the Chee Kung Tong, about doing some money laundering for Jordan.
Yun is heard saying, “I want my approval first.”
Asked by Frentzen what that referred to, the agent answered, “Her approval from Mr. Chow.”
Yun, 47, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in September to charges of money laundering, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute it and conspiring to distribute contraband cigarettes.
The agent’s direct testimony is expected to be completed on Friday and cross-examination by a lawyer for Chow will begin either late Friday or on Monday.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News