Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow was sentenced by a federal judge in San Francisco Thursday to two life terms for the 2006 murder of his predecessor as tong chief and racketeering conspiracy.
U.S. District Charles Breyer also sentenced Chow to terms ranging from five to 20 years for each of 160 other counts on which he was convicted in January, including conspiring to murder another rival, conspiring to transport stolen goods and money laundering.
The prison terms will be concurrent.
Breyer said that during Chow’s trial, “it became clear” that his claim of having reformed after previous crimes “was highly manipulative, dangerous and contrary to the evidence.” Any community service Chow performed “is so far outweighed by the corruption you fostered in your quest for power,” Breyer told Chow:
“The murder was particularly callous because it removed an obstacle in your quest for power. The motive was to take over the tong and corrupt it.”
Chow, 56, was convicted of the federal crime of murder in aid of racketeering for ordering the slaying of Chee Kung Tong leader Allen Leung.
Leung was fatally shot in his Chinatown export business office in San Francisco by a masked gunman in February 2006.
Six months later, Chow became the “dragonhead” or leader of the fraternal organization. Prosecutors claimed he then led a criminal faction of the tong in an organized crime enterprise.
The crime of murder in aid of racketeering carried a mandatory life sentence.
Before being sentenced, Chow, wearing a dark business suit, spoke for more than an hour, claiming that he was innocent, that his former defense lawyers had been incompetent and that the judge was biased.
“I’m not apologizing for crimes I had nothing to do with.”
Referring to Leung’s murder, he said:
“I feel sorry for the victims, the family involved in his case, but I had nothing to do with their father, their relatives. … I don’t have a guilty conscience. I’m going to continue to fight this case on a different level.”
Chow claimed his former defense team of veteran defense lawyer Tony Serra and Curtis Briggs “totally failed to protect my rights.” Outside of court, Chow’s current attorney, Matthew Dirkes, said he will file a notice of appeal within the required 10 days and that Chow will have new court-appointed lawyers in his appeal.
Chow is one of 29 people who were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2014 after a several-year FBI undercover operation.
The investigation also led to unrelated political corruption charges against former state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo. Yee pleaded guilty to a separate racketeering conspiracy charge and was sentenced by Breyer in February to five years in prison.
A number of co-defendants who were tong members and associates have pleaded guilty to various charges.