Turncoat informants, untrustworthy undercover FBI agents, and a federal government who wanted a “trophy” after spending more than $1 million on the investigation of alleged Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.
Such was the characterization of events made in Tony Serra’s passionate closing argument Tuesday in defense of Chow, 56, who stands charged with racketeering, murder conspiracy and ordering the killing of a rival in 2006, among other charges.
The defense and prosecution both wrapped up their closing arguments in the trial Tuesday. Jurors in the case are now deliberating.
“You find sick people in law enforcement and you find it in informants,” said Serra before he attacked the character of both undercover FBI agent David Jordan and a number of co-defendants, including members of Chow’s Ghee Kung Tong and other criminals who testified against Chow.
Still, much of Serra’s closing was refuted by the prosecution, who claimed little detail was included in Serra’s closing — and that none of it disproved the mountain of evidence against the defendant, from wire taps to testimony and more.
All of the evidence, according to the prosecution, showed Chow’s central leadership of the criminal organization he rebuilt after getting out of prison in 2003.
“I hope to correct the many misstatements” made by Serra, said prosecutor William Frentzen.
Before Judge Charles Breyer, Serra began his Tuesday morning closing argument by attacking witnesses. The defense attorney pointed out their criminal pasts and desire to escape the full weight of the law.
“Would you trust them to babysit your daughter?” asked Serra in his attack on their characters.
Serra called Jordan, the undercover FBI agent, a “Judas” who was chosen because of his ability to change like a chameleon. Therefore, Serra said, he cannot be trusted on the stand.
Jordan’s act of telling Chow he “loved him” and respected him” numerous times when handing over cash, was a sign of his “Judas syndrome. To kiss and then to kill,” Serra said.
Such claims were disputed by Frentzen. There’s no evidence, said Frentzen, that Jordan has done anything wrong.
Murder and conspiracy
There is reasonable doubt, according to Serra, of Chow’s guilt in connection to ordering former Ghee Kung Tong leader Allen Leung’s killing in 2006 and conspiracy to kill another alleged rival, Jim Tat Kong.
In the Leung case, Serra said a man who was at the scene of the killing fled the country. Jack Lee was that man and has never been back to the U.S. since, said Serra.
In terms of the Tat Kong killing, Serra pointed out there were a number of people who had reason to dislike or even hate Kong, which should thrown into doubt the murder conspiracy charge against Chow.
Serra also spoke of the fact that his client testified, which he said was not common, even though the judge called that claim false.
“He was…unreined, untethered when he testified,” said Serra. “So you got his honest testimony…How many times do defendants testify? You wanna know the answer? Only when they’re innocent.”
Finally, Serra encouraged the jury to see itself as a bulwark of freedom against a government that has stepped out of line in its overly enthusiastic investigation into Chow.
“The most glorious, freedom-fraught words in any criminal litigation is not guilty. It’s like church bells. It means we are a free society.”
The prosecution’s rebuttal, which went on for some time Tuesday, can be summed up in two wiretap recordings made by special agent Jordan, said Frentzen.
The first was of Chow on April 13, 2011.
“‘I don’t get my hands dirty anymore. But I know what my people are doing on the streets,’” Frentzen said of wiretap transcripts.
The second was from March 13, 2014 when Jordan was in a car with Chow driver George Nieh. In the recording, the driver tell the undercover FBI agent of crimes he’d committed with Chow’s blessing.
“Everything you told me. Everything you wanted to do, I told him too,’” Frentzen said, reading the transcript of Nieh speaking to Jordan. “I want to let him know everything.”
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