SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow ended three days of testimony in his federal murder and racketeering trial in San Francisco Wednesday by declaring, “I didn’t kill nobody.”
Chow also told the jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer that a key sentence pinpointed by prosecutors in a secretly recorded 2013 conversation was incorrectly transcribed.
He said that instead of referring to a murder victim, Allen Leung, in that sentence, he actually said, “I learned.”
Chow, 55, is accused of the murder in aid of racketeering of Leung, who preceded Chow as leader, or dragonhead, of the Chee Kung Tong fraternal association and who was gunned down in his Chinatown import-export office on Feb. 27, 2006.
Chow is also charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiring in the 2013 murder of another rival, Jim Tat Kong, in Mendocino County, and numerous counts of money laundering.
Prosecutors contend that after becoming the tong leader in 2006, Chow ran a faction of the group as an organized-crime enterprise between then and when he was arrested in 2014.
Chow claims he renounced crime in 2003 after completing a federal racketeering and gun-trafficking sentence and has devoted himself to community service since then.
The October 30, 2013, conversation was one of many secretly recorded by an undercover FBI agent, identified only by the pseudonym of Dave Jordan, who posed for four years as a Mafia member seeking money laundering and purchases of stolen goods by Chow’s associates.
The transcript was shown to the jury on a video screen by prosecutor Ralph Frentzen during cross-examination of Chow on Tuesday and again by defense attorney Tony Serra during re-direct examination Wednesday.
The transcript shows Chow telling Jordan, “You know, even Allen Leung even back then, you know when I’m talking to him, I’ll tell you one time. I do not like them enough to make a second time.”
A moment later, Chow says, “You fuck around, you gone…I’ll only tell you one time and that’s it.”
Prosecutors contend the passage supports their claim that Chow orchestrated Leung’s murder in retaliation for Leung’s failure to share tong revenue with him, as well as to gain power in the tong.
Under questioning from Serra Wednesday, Chow said he re-listened to the recording several times and concluded that he had said “I learned” rather than “Allen Leung.”
He said he was referring to what he learned in the previous life of crime that he gave up in 2003.
During the final minutes of Chow’s testimony, prosecutor Ralph Frentzen on re-cross examination questioned him about the sentence in which he is transcribed as saying, “You fuck around, you gone.”
“Who’d you kill, Mr. Chow?” Frentzen asked.
“I didn’t kill nobody,” Chow then answered.
The last witness of the day was Chow’s girlfriend, San Francisco businesswoman Alicia Lo.
She testified that she met Chow in 2008 and he moved into her house in 2009. She said she bought Chow’s clothes and food and that it didn’t matter to her that he didn’t have money to contribute to the expenses.
“I love him. He’s my boyfriend,” she said.
Lo said she asked Chow to move out in January 2014 because he was spending so much time working on a book and possible movie deal that he couldn’t provide “everything I needed from him as a partner.”
But the two still saw each other and Chow occasionally spent the night, including the night before he was arrested by the FBI on March 26, 2014, she said.
Defense attorney Curtis Briggs asked, “Did he ever mention he was involved in anything illegal?”
“No, he wouldn’t do that,” Lo answered.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Wagar Hasib questioned whether she had asked Jordan to introduce her to other Mafia members.
Lo said that at a function, she asked Jordan whether he knew any Mafia members and said, “I just thought it would be fun and interesting to meet them.”
After Lo’s testimony, the trial recessed until Monday for continuation of defense testimony. Breyer told the jurors that they may get the case for deliberation by mid-January, rather than late January or February as originally expected.
Defense attorneys also filed a motion for a mistrial Wednesday, alleging that Breyer violated Chow’s right to a fair trial by making “disparaging and disrespectful” remarks to Briggs before the jury and interrupting him during his cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.
Breyer asked prosecutors to file a response and said he will consider the motion next Wednesday.
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