A former gang member and drug dealer who was muscle for the organization headed by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow testified Tuesday afternoon he was one of several gang members ordered by Chow to kill one of his rivals.
Kongphet “Fat Joe” Chanthavong, a convicted drug dealer who has done time in prison, was one of more than 20 arrested in March 2014 along with Chow. He has since pleaded guilty to racketeering, drug and gun charges in exchange for a plea deal that included testifying against Chow.
Chanthavong was the last to testify in the second day of the murder and racketeering trial of Chow, but his testimony was clearly the most explosive. He told of how Chow befriended him and later ordered him and several others to kill Chinatown businessman Allen Leung.
Leung, who headed several tongs (Chinese benevolent organizations) was killed in 2006. Soon after Chow took the leadership position in one of those tongs — the Ghee Kung Tong.
“Ray was pretty upset ’cause he said he’s not getting the money anymore,” said Chanthavong about a $150,000 loan Chow requested from the tongs headed by Leung. “He put in a lot of work back in the day for the Hop Sing and they would loan him some money so he could put something together.”
Chanthavong, who was initiated into the Hop Sing Tong and the Ghee Kung Tong because of his relationship with Chow, was ordered in 2005 to take part in the killing.
Outside of a bar in Oakland after Chow gave the order, Chanthavong and two others started to “brainstorm” the best way to commit the crime. They decided a rainy day would be best, and that they should do it at his place of business on Jackson Street.
When Chow went back into the bar, the Chanthavong learned who the target was.
“That’s when I learned that somebody was gonna get taken out,” said Chanthavong.
Following that meeting in the Spring of 2005, Chanthavong was tasked with surveilling Leung’s Jackson Street business. He either drove by or walked past the storefront about a dozen times, he said.
Then one night in what he called the “rainy season,” Chanthavong was called to a South San Francisco hotel by one of the other conspirators. “That’s when I learned the job was going on [that night],” he said. “The hit.”
Inside the room was one of the men he’d plotted with outside of the bar in Oakland, as well as a group of younger men he didn’t know. That’s when he decided to back out.
“I didn’t want to be a part of it,” he said “I’m not a killer. I’m a drug dealer. I’ve never killed anybody.”
Then he left. Two weeks later he saw in the newspaper that Leung had been killed. “I had no reaction. I knew it was gonna happen so I wasn’t surprised,” he said.
He was ordered to attend Leung’s funeral, but the idea of attending the funeral of a man he plotted to kill didn’t sit well with him, he said.
“It felt strange,” he said. “I knew what happened to him. I knew I played a part in it and that he was murdered for whatever reason. And I knew who actually ordered him murdered.”
Chow’s trial is set to continue Thursday morning.