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Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow Guilty on All Counts in Racketeering, Murder Trial

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In this photo taken Aug. 6, 2006, Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow is shown after being sworn in as the dragonhead of the Chee Kung Tong in Chinatown in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Sing Tao Daily)

Updated, 4:45 p.m.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted reputed Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow on all 162 counts in a sweeping indictment that charged him with murder, money laundering, conspiracy to traffic in stolen goods and a wide range of other racketeering offenses.

Chow, the dragonhead, or chief, of the fraternal organization Chee Kung Tong, faces life in prison and will be sentenced March 23.

“This conviction represents a just and final end to Mr. Chow's long running and deadly criminal career,” San Francisco FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said in a prepared statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office. “The FBI is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting violent criminal enterprises operating in the Bay Area and will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to make our communities and residents safe.”

The FBI's tactics in the several-year investigation of Chow were a key part of the defense's arguments early in the trial. His attorney's accused the FBI and federal prosecutors of misconduct for spending millions to charge a man they say was a reformed criminal.

On Friday, that ire extended to the judge and jury in the case. Defense attorney Tony Serra called U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer "horribly unfair." He castigated the jury for choosing to believe a series of criminal informants who were key to the government's case.


"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:

KQED's Alex Emslie contributed to this post.

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