The man who spent nearly four years posing as an east coast gangster in order to infiltrate Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s criminal organization took the stand Tuesday, explaining his dangerous work and how he ultimately gained Chow’s trust.
The unnamed FBI agent, known to Chow and his associates as David Jordan, testified in the closed federal courtroom of Judge Charles Breyer about his years undercover and how he built trust with Chow, who stands trial on racketeering and murder-related charges
The public and press had to view the half-day of testimony through video feed from the courtroom in order to protect the identity of the agent who is still working undercover.
Also known as UCE 4599, Jordan at first only played a minor undercover role in the investigation starting in 2010. Another undercover agent who went by the name Jimmy Chen, and who also testified Tuesday, introduced Jordan to Chow in Hawaii.
But it took years of dangerous undercover work to finally gain the trust of Chow, said Jordan.
“Dave Jordan was a member of an organized crime syndicate based on East Coast,” said the agent, explaining his fictional backstory for undercover work.
“A legend in essence is an undercover story, your background,” he said.
For Jordan that meant a story about why he was on the west coast, and why his name didn’t sound Italian. He told Chow and his associates that he’d been sent west to take control of his family’s illegal gambling enterprises. He even explained away his non-Italian name by saying that his family name was originally Jordania, but had been changed on Ellis Island.
As part of that character he spoke with an accent, and used vulgar, racists and sexist language.
He said he laundered illegal funds through a front company called Madison International.
Still, it took him more than a year to start building any kind of real trust with Chow.
”He’d rub my back, rub my legs. He’d put his hands all over me,” said Jordan, as if Chow was feeling for wires whenever they met.
Over long, late-night drunken meals and then daytime meetings, Jordan developed a rapport with the group.
“He drank and consumed copious amounts of cognac,” said Jordan of Chow’s late night escapades. “I just grew increasingly tired, and I did not enjoy my time going out at night with these individuals.”
Still, Jordan said Tuesday that he felt a constant threat for his safety as he had little back up. If he got in trouble there was a two-man team he could text or call, but that was it.
“There was no cavalry coming?” asked federal prosecutor William Frentzen. “So, unless you were able to convey something over the cell phone, nobody was coming.”
One of his most frightening tests came in February 2011 on a trip to Las Vegas where he met one of Chow’s associates. In a Bellagio hotel Jordan watched as the man plopped his pistol on the table and threw a bag of cocaine down, challenging Jordan to snort a line to prove he wasn’t a cop.
Jordan managed to wiggle his way out of the situation and keep his cover, but barely.
“I was unaware how incredibly frightened I was,” he said.