A motion to dismiss racketeering charges against Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow was denied Thursday after his lawyers had argued the charges should be thrown out because he was targeted while politically connected officials were given a pass.
But U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer said in court that Chow’s lawyers had given no evidence to prove that their client had been selectively prosecuted or that any crimes were committed by politicians — especially Mayor Ed Lee.
“There’s no evidence whatsoever of any criminal wrongdoing of the mayor — none,” said Breyer, who pointed out the evidence must show that others who committed alleged crimes were passed over by prosecutors.
The explosive motion included never-before-released details and names from a yearlong investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Lee, other city officials, an Alameda County prosecutor and a state official were all named in alleged wrongdoing caught on tape or witnessed by undercover FBI agents or their sources.
For instance, the wiretaps caught Lee’s underlyings allegedly working with an FBI agent to launder campaign funds. While none of those involved were prosecuted, Chow’s lawyers argued that, among other things, that was proof that the U.S. Attorney’s Office went after Chow while giving the others a pass.
Federal prosecutors have called such contentions preposterous — former state Sen. Leland Yee and former school board member Keith Jackson were both indicted.
But Curtis Briggs and Tony Serra, both of whom represent Chow, countered that FBI wiretaps of people other than their client give the appearance that crimes were indeed committed.
Their motion for discovery, which was denied, was motivated by their belief that it will show the FBI investigation into political corruption in San Francisco was stopped when it got too close to The City’s leaders.
“The evidence is at least as strong against Ed Lee,” said Briggs, as it is against his client.
Briggs also said in court that Lee was caught on tape in the same room as his underling and campaign financier Zula Jones when she openly talked with an undercover FBI agent about laundering $20,000 in campaign donations.
But the agent, said Briggs, wanted to make sure the mayor knew all the money was coming from him. So, right after Jones got off the phone with the agent, she called him back and handed the phone to Lee, who thanked the man for his contribution.
Lee has denied any charges of wrongdoing.
Last March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted more than 20 defendants, which was followed by raids across the Bay Area. Those arrested included Chow, Yee and Jackson. All three were indicted on a series of charges including racketeering and campaign money laundering.
Yee, Jackson and two others have since pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.
Chow faces racketeering charges for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise that included selling drugs, stolen property and money laundering.
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