A prosecutor told a federal jury in San Francisco Monday that Chinatown fraternal association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow killed his predecessor with a “cold-blooded gangland-style hit.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Waqar Hasib began his opening statement in Chow’s racketeering and murder trial with a vivid description of a masked gunman bursting into the Chinatown import-export office of Chee Kung Tong leader Allen Leung in 2006.
The gunman shouted “Robbery, robbery” and then shot Leung and fled without taking the several thousand dollars in Leung’s office.
Hasib told the jury that although Chow did not pull the trigger, he ordered the murder and was responsible.
Shortly after Leung’s murder, Chow became the leader or dragonhead of the Chee Kung Tong.
Monday marked the first day of what is expected to a two- to three-month trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.
Chow, 55, faces 162 counts including racketeering conspiracy, the murder of Leung, soliciting another former associate’s murder in 2013, conspiring to receive and transport stolen property and dozens of counts of money laundering.
Hasib alleged that Chow was at the center of a criminal enterprise run through a faction of the tong.
“This person was at the center, like planets revolving around the sun. One might call him the sun. That’s what he called himself,” Hasib told the jury.
But defense attorney Tony Serra told the jury in his opening, “The evidence will not show that my client participated in the murder of anyone, period.
“My client did not participate in any criminal acts,” Serra said.
Serra said Chow “had an epiphany and changed his life” and became a community leader after serving a prison term for a previous racketeering conviction.
He said that former associates who are scheduled to testify against Chow are doing so in hope of light sentences.
“They are acting out of desperation. They’ll say anything to save their own skin, to get some kind of leniency,” Serra said.
The attorney said Chow will testify in his own defense and predicted that “will make all the difference in this case.”
Jurors will be able to see Chow’s “spiritual side,” Serra said.