Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, pictured during a ceremony inside the Ghee Kung Tong, faces charges of trafficking, murder for hire, racketeering and money laundering. (Courtesy photo)

Undercover FBI agent questioned by defense in ‘Shrimp Boy’ trial

The first time the FBI lead undercover agent in the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow investigation gave his target a red envelope — one of many envelopes full of cash — was in 2010, according to testimony Monday.

From then on, the agent, who played an East Coast mobster in his undercover role, gave Chow numerous envelopes full of cash, but never once caught Chow on tape saying what the money was for.

The federal racketeering and murder case against Chow, the alleged dragon head of a Chinatown fraternal organization, Ghee Kung Tong, rests on linking disparate pieces of evidence that put Chow at the center of the enterprise. That evidence includes everything from the testimony of former associates to wiretaps and the word of FBI agents on the case.

But the framing of the case in court Monday was attacked by defense lawyer Curtis Briggs in an attempt to cast the investigation’s illicit activity as something Chow didn’t know about and that, in many cases, was created by the FBI.

Known as David Jordan, the undercover agent at the center of the investigation withstood a testy cross-examination, which attempted to poke holes in the FBI’s investigative techniques, conclusions about Chow’s actions and cultural knowledge of the very people they were investigating.

“Can you point to me in that dialogue where you told him what that money was for?” Briggs asked after playing a recording of the first time Chow was given money by the agent.

“Did they tell you it would be disrespectful if he refused it?” asked Briggs, in regards to whether Jordan had been trained in or studied Chinese cultural practices.

Jordan said that he had not, but added that Chow could have stopped taking the money at any time but never did, despite always saying, “No, no, no” repeatedly on the wire recording of the interactions.

“[Chow] probably could have given it back to me. He probably could have stopped calling me. He probably could have called the police,” Jordan said. “He did none of that, Mr.
Briggs.”

When asked why he chose to play an Italian-American mobster and how he prepared for his role, the agent said he grew up around such people, so playing the part wasn’t much of a leap.

Jordan said he read “The Godfather,” watched A&E and the History Channel as part of his preparation to play an East Coast mobster. He also said he’d never taken part in an operation against Asian organized crime and did not speak Cantonese.

“You didn’t bother to learn a little Cantonese for the role?” Briggs asked.

“I didn’t take an active interest in learning Cantonese,” Jordan said.

Why Jordan and his bosses didn’t instead use an Asian agent and create a false identity for him was unclear.

Jordan, whose real name is unknown, testified in a closed courtroom so his identity was not revealed. He is expected to continue his testimony Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer’s courtroom.

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