Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s federal racketeering trial will begin in November as planned, despite an effort by prosecutors to push that date back by months after announcing new last-minute charges.
Thursday a federal judge denied a request for continuance by prosecutors who said they need several months for their bosses to review capital charges in a pending superseding indictment against Chow.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer said via teleconference (he was in Washington D.C.) that any further delay in the case would impact Chow’s right to a speedy trial and impact his ability to have the lawyer of his choosing.
The “defendant’s right to a speedy trial and counsel of his choosing would be severely impacted by a continuance of the case,” said Breyer.
The continuance was requested by U.S. Attorney William Frentzen after his office said they plan to file new charges against Chow, which will include soliciting murder charges in connection to the killing of Chinatown businessman Allen Leung in 2006.
Frentzen said he planned to connect the soliciting murder charge to Chow’s alleged criminal enterprises, which would mean the charge could be death penalty eligible. But to indict someone with a capital offense he said he needs the Department of Justice to review the charge. That could take two to three months, he added.
Breyer, who also ruled that any new capital eligible charges will be severed from the case, said he has never seen the DOJ make a call on such cases in that time frame. Instead it usually takes about a year, he said.
The case against Chow had previously only alleged he headed an organized crime group, the fraternal Chinatown organization Ghee Kung Tong.
Those charges stemmed from a year-long federal investigation into the Chinatown underworld and political corruption in San Francisco.
In March 2014, law enforcement raids across the Bay Area detained more than 20 people, including former state Sen. Leland Yee, former school board member Keith Jackson and Chow.
The arrests 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’s arrest and the subsequent case have also pulled in a bevy of Bay Area politicians, including Mayor Ed Lee, who were caught up in the Federal Bureau of Investigator’s inquiry into local political corruption.