After being released from prison in 2003 in exchange for testifying against a former gang colleague, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s possible criminal acts worried the federal agents who were monitoring him. That was long before they opened the investigation that ultimately led to his indictment.
Such was the subject of Tuesday morning testimony from FBI agent William Wu in the second day of the murder and racketeering trial of Chow in Judge Charles Breyer’s federal courtroom.
Wu was part of the San Francisco Asian organized crime squad from 2001 to 2005 and had interactions with both Chow and Allen Leung, a Chinatown business man whose 2006 death was allegedly ordered by Chow.
Much of Wu’s testimony surrounded the years that led up to Leung’s killing, which was followed by Chow’s taking over as the dragon head of the Ghee Kung Tong, which Leung had led before his death.
Initially the FBI asked the Immigration and Naturalization Service to let Chow onto the streets after his release from prison, if they promised to monitor his whereabouts, and make sure he was not a threat to the public. At the time Chow’s immigration status was in flux, and an S visa was in process for him to remain in the U.S.
But when a series of events unfolded, including a shooting, alleged extortion and threats, the FBI realized they could not guarantee public safety or Chow’s whereabouts, said Wu.
Wu testified several separate incidents — a shooting outside of the tong, reported threats and extortion efforts and a report of Chow being seen with an armed gang member — were enough for the FBI to send him back to the INS.
“It was the series of events together that helped us to make a decision to put Mr. Chow back where he was supposed to be,” said Wu about Chow’s return to immigration custody in 2005.
Wu said the FBI feared a Chinatown gang war was brewing.
Leung, through San Francisco police, told Wu that he feared for his life and specifically thought Chow might try to kill him in an effort to become head of the tong. At the time Leung headed the Hop Sing Tong as well as the Ghee Kung Tong.
But Leung, who admitted he was involved in illegal activity, said he couldn’t wear a wire or participate in other ways in order to catch Chow making threats.
“He would kill Mr. Leung,” Wu said he was told by Leung about wearing a wire. “Lueng said as a gang member he can’t use law enforcement to set up another gang member.”
Leung also said Chow told him to step down as head of the Hop Sing Tong several years before. .
But what worried Leung most was a request by Chow asking for a $150,000 loan, which was denied.
Soon afterward, someone shot up the front door of the Hop Sing Tong.
Finally, according to Wu, came an event that the FBI feared was a sign of more violence to come. All the tongs in Chinatown, except for the Hop Sing Tong, had their front doors painted in red.
“Red paint signifies blood,” said Wu. “It was being thrown to all the other tongs in Chinatown.”
Defense counsel Curtis Briggs questioned Wu about what, if any evidence, the FBI had to connect his client to any of these allegation.
Wu said they had none, but after Chow was detained by immigration, Chinatown was very calm.
Briggs also asked why Wu trusted one admitted criminal over another. Why, asked Briggs, did Wu trust unconfirmed rumors about Chow?
Wu said he didn’t trust Leung more than Chow. Then Briggs asked whether Wu had been trained about whether sources may manipulate agents to get what they want.
When Wu answered affirmatively, Briggs then asked another question.
“It must have occurred to you that was what Allen Leung was doing in giving you information about Raymond Chow?’ said Briggs, alluding the fact that Leung may have been lying in order to get Chow in trouble.
“That’s entirely possible,” said Wu.
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