SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday postponed setting a sentencing date for Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow on his racketeering conspiracy and murder convictions. Instead, the judge set an April 15th deadline for Chow’s lawyers to submit post-trial motions.
Chow, 56, the leader or “dragonhead” of the Chee Kung Tong fraternal association, was convicted of 162 counts by a jury in the court of
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Jan. 8. The convictions included racketeering conspiracy, the 2006 murder of Chow’s predecessor as dragonhead, conspiracy to murder another rival, five counts of conspiring to transport stolen liquor and cigarettes across state lines and 154 counts of money laundering.
Chow was originally due to be sentenced by Breyer Wednesday, but the judge previously postponed the sentencing because Chow’s lawyers asked for more time to file the post-trial motions.
At a brief hearing Wednesday, Breyer set an April 15th deadline for those filings and said he will set the sentencing date later.
Outside of court, defense attorney Tony Serra said, “We’re appreciative that the judge is giving us ample time to perfect what we think will be significant motions that will affect the sentencing in this case.”
In court papers, Chow’s lawyers have said they want to file a motion for dismissal of the charges on grounds of alleged “outrageous and
extreme” conduct by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting the case.
They also plan to file a second motion seeking a new trial on grounds of alleged errors by Breyer in handling Chow’s two-month trial.
Chow was one of 29 people indicted by a federal grand jury in 2014 following a five-year probe that also ensnared former state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and political consultant Keith Jackson. Chow and most of the other defendants were accused of
participating in an organized-crime enterprise allegedly run by Chow through a criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong.
Yee and Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president who served as Yee’s fundraiser, were separately accused of political corruption in accepting campaign contributions as bribes for political favors by Yee.
Both Yee and Jackson pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and were sentenced by Breyer last month to five years and nine years in prison,
respectively. FBI investigators were led to Yee through Jackson, who had ties to the tong as well as to the senator.
In a related local case that grew out of the federal probe, Jackson and two other former city officials now face additional charges in San Francisco Superior Court of accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for preferential treatment on city contracts.
Of the 29 people indicted in the federal case, a total of 14, including Chow, Yee and Jackson, have been convicted of various charges. Chow
was the only one to go to trial and the others pleaded guilty, including four associates who testified against Chow at his trial.
One defendant, Serge Gee, is a fugitive and another, Daly City dentist Wilson Lim, who was accused of conspiring with Yee and Jackson in a
never-completed international arms deal, died.
Prosecutors suggested in a court filing this week that the remaining 13 defendants be tried in two different trials. At Wednesday’s hearing,
Breyer scheduled the trial for the next group of eight defendants for Sept. 12.
At least some of the defendants may plead guilty before that trial, however.
The prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office told Breyer in their filing that “the government does not expect all of these defendants to actually proceed to trial and that very meaningful discussions have occurred with an eye to resolving the case with many of these
Two defendants in addition to Yee and Jackson have been sentenced. They are Jackson’s son, Brandon Jackson, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy that included gun and drug sales and an uncompleted murder-for-hire plot. Breyer sentenced them last month to four and one-half years and five and one-half years in prison, respectively.
The judge said Wednesday that he wanted to wait before setting sentencing dates for the other convicted defendants. He said he prefers to
sentence as many as possible at the same time so that he can “get the full picture” and avoid unfair disparities in sentences.
Breyer did set a June 29 sentencing date for Alan Chiu, after Chiu’s defense lawyer said he has already spent two years in custody and may
soon have completed his future prison sentence. Chiu pleaded guilty in September to money laundering charges.