Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow repeated his claim in court Tuesday that he hasn’t committed a single crime in over a decade.
But that didn’t stop federal prosecutors from taking stab at getting the alleged Chinatown crime lord, during his second day on the stand, to admit he committed many crimes in recent years, including murder for hire.
Using audio recordings of an alleged conversation on Oct. 30, 2013, between Chow and an undercover FBI agent known as David Jordan, prosecutor William Frentzen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office pressed Chow on whether he touted the murders of Allen Leung, former leader of the fraternal organization Ghee Kung Tong, and Jimmy Tat Kong, an alleged gangster.
Chow, 56, faces federal murder and racketeering charges in connection with his arrest in 2014 following a wide-ranging FBI operation that netted more than two dozen other defendants, including former state Sen. Leland Yee.
While Monday’s testimony by Chow touched mostly on his criminal background, he spent much of Tuesday explaining that despite two undercover FBI agents who tried encouraging him to participate in various crimes, he remained clean.
“Before I change my life, I am professional criminal, I see all opportunity in front of my eye,” said Chow in broken English and a thick Chinese accent. “I’m proud today, I’m here to tell everyone, I’m a changed man. I’ve been waiting for this chance for years, to tell people I’m a changed man.”
Chow insisted again he had no involvement in the murder of Leung, who was shot dead inside his Jackson Street business in 2006. He also denied involvement in the murder of Jimmy Tat Kong, an alleged gangster found dead in a minivan in rural Mendocino County in 2013.
Chow, who has served multiple stints in prison, claimed he would walk away from conversations with Jordan, the FBI agent, involving alleged criminal activity.
When Chow’s defense attorney Tony Serra asked his client if he knew Jordan was involved in money laundering, Chow replied that he steered clear of such activities.
“I heard [Jordan] talk about it, he tried to get me to talk about it. He tried to get me involved with the money laundering,” Chow said, adding that he refused.
Chow also claimed he didn’t know the cigarettes and alcohol Jordan and Chen allegedly urged him to sell were illegal. Chow insisted he was told that Jordan’s family owned the liquor company and was unaware that the cigarettes didn’t have a tax stamp.
Chow testified that while meditating at Ocean Beach around 2004, after his release from prison the prior year, he made an oath never to involve himself in crimes. But under cross-examination from Frentzen, the defendant said he still used prostitutes and cocaine — but didn’t consider those to be crimes.
“Let me clear up something … sometime I snort a couple bump,” Chow said. “I don’t know if you consider that illegal but for me it’s very normal just for a party. It’s normal to me.”
The defendant also explained the $60,000 given to him over a three year period by Jordan, one of the undercover agents, allegedly for Chow’s involvement in selling alcohol and cigarettes, was the equivalent to “minimum wage.” Chow said he was pressed by Jordan to take the money.
“If I’m in illegal business I can make that within a day … I cut all that off,” Chow said. “I’m not involved in illegal business no more, that’s why I don’t make no money.”
But it was the audio recordings of a conversation between Chow and Jordan in October 2013 that Frentzen focused on for much of his cross-examination. Frentzen played a section of the recording in which the pair were allegedly discussing Kong’s murder.
In the recording, Jordan said, “He’s dead? You’re kidding me,” to which Chow allegedly replied, “No, they say it’s a secret, but everyone know in Chinatown,” followed by Chow’s laughter.
Chow, however, insisted the conversation was taken out of context. Although Chow on Tuesday admitted he wasn’t sad about Kong’s death, saying “[Kong] do a lot of bad thing for people, sooner or later the bad thing catch up on him,” he maintained having no involvement in Kong’s murder.
Chow also denied ordering the murder of Leung, which the prosecutor claimed Chow confessed to in that same conversation.
“You understand in the triad world, that a boss could put a hit on somebody without coming right out and saying it?” Frentzen asked Chow, referring to organized crime.
“That’s the nature of the street,” Chow said, after Frentzen repeatedly asked him if he had hinted at ordering the murders of Leung and Kong. “It’s not you ordering someone.”
Chow is expected to continue his testimony Wednesday.
Also Tuesday, the court excused a juror for the second time in as many days. The remaining alternate was appointed to fill that juror’s sp
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