"This conviction was predicated on the testimony of five snitches that no rational human being would believe or extend credibility to," Serra said. "Welcome to the federal system of justice in criminal cases. This is snitch heaven, and we feel disgusted for the case as it progressed and the case ultimately as it culminated.”
Serra defended his decision to have Chow testify -- an unusual step in a high-stakes criminal case -- but said the court had not given him enough time to prepare his client for his appearance on the stand.
Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News summarized Chow's December testimony this way:
Describing his evolution from street criminal to reformed criminal, Chow, who insists his current racketeering indictment is government-created "fiction," acknowledged that his past was steeped in crime, from gun violence and beating up rivals to running drug and prostitution operations. Chow's first day on the witness stand dealt primarily with his past, but he is expected to address the current charges as the week unfolds.
Chow told the jury he took a vow to go clean after years as a feared criminal.
"It made me stronger," Chow said of spending much of his formative years bouncing from the streets to prison and back to the streets. "I feel good about myself."
Prosecutors played recordings in which Chow accepted cash from an undercover FBI agent, payments the government said were made in exchange for carrying out crimes like money laundering. On cross-examination, Chow told William Frentzen, the assistant U.S. attorney who was the lead prosecutor in the case, that he did not "take" the cash, but "received" it. He testified he believed the agent, identified only by the alias David Jordan, gave him the money to show respect.
The FBI conducted a four-year-plus undercover investigation of Chow, who had served an earlier sentence for racketeering but insisted he had reformed after his release from prison in 2003.
The investigation led in March 2014 to Chow's arrest on the racketeering charges. A murder charge, involving the 2006 killing of a reputed Chow rival, was added last October.
The federal investigation also snared former state Sen. Leland Yee and San Francisco political consultant Keith Jackson, among others. They were arrested and later pleaded guilty to racketeering charges involving trading official favors in exchange for campaign contributions, and, in Yee's case, arms trafficking.
Serra said Friday's guilty verdict is just one step in a process in which he believes Chow will be exonerated.
“There will be ultimately a second stage, and if you watched our client knowing what the verdict was, he was noble in his acceptance of defeat, and he said we will prevail in the second round, which is the appellate level," Serra said.
Chow's longtime girlfriend, Alicia Lo, took to Twitter after the verdict was announced, saying he was "strong, positive ... even laughing," despite the jury's finding. She also tweeted: