A defiant and sharply-dress Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow maintained his innocence Thursday in federal court before receiving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole for orchestrating the murder of a fellow gang leader a decade ago.
“They didn’t get the right guy,” the Chinatown gangster — convicted of racketeering, murder and murder for hire earlier this year — said as he pointed to one of the federal attorneys who sought his conviction, as part of his right to speak before his sentencing. “I’m not apologizing for a crime I had nothing to do with.”
Chow had his usual calm demeanor when he walked into a packed courtroom, smiling. He even waved at his girlfriend.
He then sat in silence as he was sentenced to two life sentences Thursday for his racketeering conviction as well as ordering the killing of Chinatown tong leader Allen Leung in 2006. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his conviction related to ordering the death of another rival, and was also sentenced to additional time for the total 162 counts on which he was convicted.
Chow’s sentence also includes $15,881 in restitution to Leung’s family for funeral costs, a fine of $16,200 and a $225,000 forfeiture.
The sentence means Chow will spend the rest of this life in jail, said the 56-year-old’s lawyer Matt Dirkes.
Chow was arrested in March 2014 in raids that scooped up more than 20 other co-defendants who were part of Chow’s illegal activity run through the Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinatown fraternal organization. Former state Sen. Leland Yee and former San Francisco school board member Keith Jackson were both arrested and charged as well.
The raids stemmed from a federal indictment alleging, among other things, that Chow headed an organized gang outfit in Chinatown and that Yee and Jackson committed a series of crimes to further Yee’s political ambitions. Yee and Jackson have since pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges.
Chow argued in court that he turned his life around, and was at one point described as “beatific” by one of his lawyers. But jurors returned guilty verdicts within three days of closing arguments.
Despite his protestations Thursday, Judge Charles Breyer and prosecutor William Frentzen countered Chow’s 11th hour pleas with statements painting Chow as an unrepentant and dangerous criminal who drew youths into his orbit only to corrupt them in order to increase his own power and influence.
“He is a highly manipulative, constant, perpetual liar,” said Frentzen of Chow, who he also called a “parasite.”
Frentzen said the evidence and witnesses in the case proved Chow’s guilt, yet he remains unrepentant and continues to blame everyone but himself for his crimes.
Breyer, who Chow accused of acting in favor of the prosecution and who was accused of conflicts of interest in defense filings because of alleged links between the nonprofit his wife runs and Mayor Ed Lee, said Chow was not a changed man.
“He is not going to change,” said Breyer, who added that Chow’s order to kill Leung “was particularly callous because it was the removal of an obstacle to power.”
Still, Chow spoke for nearly two hours about how his defense was inept and how the court was biased against him.
“My defense team totally failed to protect my rights,” he said, adding that his lawyers — Tony Serra, Curtis Briggs and Tyler Smith — failed to adequately impeach the prosecution’s witnesses or file motions in a timely manner.
“There are real questions as to whether he was afforded his constitutionally mandated rights,” said Dirkes, Chow’s new lawyer Matt.
Still, Alicia Lo, Chow’s girlfriend, said he is a changed man who did not receive a fair trial.
“I believe he is like a unicorn,” Lo said of Chow’s charisma and leadership skills. She also denied claims that Chow used his good works in the community as a front for his criminal activities.
Lo said they plan to appeal his conviction.
Chow has 10 days to file an intention to appeal.