Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow was trying to make millions from the sale of antique furniture owned by the fraternal organization he allegedly headed as a Chinatown gang leader, according to new filings in the federal racketeering case against him.
“George and Chow mainly discuss the possible furniture deal,” noted the transcript of an April 2014 interview with the sister of George Nieh, one of the defendants in the case. Shirley Nieh said the two men were working to sell some of the Ghee Kung Tong’s antique furniture to a buyer in China for $1 million.
The Ghee Kung Tong, a more than 100-year-old organization, is allegedly led by Chow, the group’s “dragon head.” While the tong describes itself as a fraternal organization, the federal government has described it as a criminal organization.
The interview, conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, stated Nieh, a San Francisco Police Credit Union employee, also made large deposits for her brother and was fired in 2011 by her former employer, Bank of the West, for doing so.
“Chow and Nieh have been meeting the third Sunday of each month at the Chee Kung Tong [sic] hangout that Chow runs,” the filings quote from the interview with Nieh. “These meetings were in order to work on a project to sell historic furniture owned by the Chee Kung Tong to a buyer from China. The furniture was possibly worth millions.”
It is unclear in the filings which pieces of furniture might have been for sale. The organization’s headquarters in Chinatown has lacquered chairs and a central altar, as well as historic photos on its walls.
When the FBI raided the tong’s offices in March 2014, they damaged a safe and office used by China’s first president and patriot Sun Yat-sen.
A plaque outside the Ghee Kung Tong office says that in 1904, it was Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary fundraising headquarters. More recently, the Pius Lee Foundation gave $5,000 for the office’s renovation.
Chow, who remains in custody and stands charged with racketeering, is set to go to trial Nov. 1.
Following Chow’s allegations that the case against him was an example of selective prosecution, a number of the defendants began distancing themselves from him by filing severance motions.
This week, five of his co-defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges in Judge Charles Breyer’s First District Courtroom on Wednesday. The five were part of a group set to go to trial Oct. 19 with Chow.
“It’s gonna look real funny when they take the stand, and it’s a one-man racketeering trial,” said Curtis Briggs, who is representing Chow along with Tony Serra.