David Chiu had been on the Board of Supervisors for less than two months when he first encountered Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the notorious Chinatown gangster who claimed to have gone clean, at a Chinese New Year event in February 2009.
In the following months — after repeated warnings not to cross Chow, an intimidating, anonymous phone call to his parents in Boston, and a mysterious late-night visit to his apartment from San Francisco police — Chiu received police protection after he became convinced Chow still had strong ties to the criminal underworld, including direct involvement in the still-unsolved 2006 murder of a prominent Chinatown businessman, Chiu later told the FBI, according to an affidavit filed this week in Chow’s ongoing criminal case.
Chiu, now a member of the state Assembly, was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
But while he was a supervisor, Chiu became “concerned for his own safety due to Chow’s irrationality,” wrote FBI Special Agent Tseng H. Chow in a July 29, 2009, memo written after police had informed the FBI of Chow’s antics. “Chiu is worried that Chow may recruit one of his underlings to physically harm Chiu.”
After a stranger approached him at the February Chinese New Year event to inform him that Chow ran Chinatown, Chiu managed to avoid trouble at first — and his office even went as far as to issue Chow and his organization, the Ghee Kung Tong, an official city proclamation in March 2009.
But he then learned, through Chinese Chamber of Commerce power broker Rose Pak, that Chow was intimidating Chinatown merchants. Soon after, strangers would approach Chiu in the street to tell him he was in danger. Chiu’s parents in Boston then received a phone call, which the San Francisco Police Department could not trace, that their son’s life was in danger, Chiu told the FBI.
And then Chiu ran afoul of Chow, who managed to spook the politician sufficiently for Chiu to accept police protection from SFPD.
In June 2009, Chiu was instrumental in yanking $35,000 in city funding from the Chinatown Night Market — a monthly event in Portsmouth Square similar to markets in Hong Kong — which had recently been taken over by Chow.
Chow staged demonstrations in front of City Hall, went on an offensive in the Chinese language press — calling Chiu a “corpse eating a vegetarian dinner” — and threatened to sue him for defamation.
Soon after, Chiu was awoken one night to hear his doorbell being rung repeatedly. The ringer turned out to be police, who were responding to an anonymous phone call — also untraceable — that there was a disturbance at Chiu’s apartment.
Chiu told the FBI he suspected Chow operatives could be gauging police response time and asserted he felt Chow was involved with the 2006 murder of Allan Leung, a businessman who had preceded Chow as head of the Ghee Kung Tong.
Chiu agreed to wear a wire during a meeting with Chow at the Empress of China restaurant, but nothing substantive came of that, and eventually the affair blew over.