Defendants in ‘Shrimp Boy’ case plead guilty
Eight associates of former Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow have been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to terms of one to seven years in prison for their roles in organized-crime activities.
The sentences were meted out by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Monday for crimes including money laundering, gun trafficking and marijuana cultivation, to which the associates had pleaded guilty.
The three women and five men were among 29 people, including Chow, who were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2014 on multiple charges after a several-year undercover FBI investigation. Most of the other defendants were previously sentenced after entering guilty pleas.
Chow, 57, the former dragonhead of the Chee Kung Tong, was the only one to go to trial.
He was convicted by a jury in Breyer’s court in 2016 of 162 counts, including organized-crime racketeering conspiracy, the murder of his predecessor as tong chief, conspiracy to murder another rival, money laundering and conspiracy to transport stolen goods. Breyer sentenced him to two life terms.
The investigation also led to unrelated political corruption charges in the same indictment against former state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and fundraising consultant Keith Jackson.
Yee and Jackson pleaded guilty to a separate bribery-solicitation racketeering conspiracy charge and were sentenced by Breyer to five and nine years in prison, respectively.
The eight people sentenced on Monday pleaded guilty to some but not all of the charges against them. The other charges remain pending. For six of the defendants, the remaining charges include participating in a racketeering conspiracy to operate a criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong as an organized-crime enterprise. That charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said Breyer has asked prosecutors to inform him whether they plan to seek trials on the remaining charges.
At Monday’s hearing, Breyer sentenced Leslie Yun, 51, to seven years in prison for her conviction on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to traffic in stolen cigarettes and marijuana distribution.
In a sentencing brief, prosecutors said she was the tong’s treasurer and alleged that “Chow planned violent acts on behalf of the CKT” at her massage parlor in Oakland.
Defense attorney Dennis Riordan, who sought a sentence of one to one and one-half years, contended in a filing that there was no convincing evidence that Yun joined in an enterprise with anyone other than her husband and an undercover agent who posed as a Mafia-connected businessman.
Yun’s husband, James Pau, 58, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in stolen cigarettes, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Michael Mei, 33, of San Francisco, was given a five-year prison term for possession and cultivation of marijuana at houses in Antioch in 2012 and Daly City in 2014.
Elaine Liang, 55, of San Francisco, was sentenced to three years for money laundering.
Tina Liang, 43, of San Francisco, received a one and one-half year term for conspiracy to transport stolen liquor and possession and cultivation of marijuana.
Kevin Siu, 34, of Daly City, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for money laundering.
Two other defendants who were not charged in the racketeering count were sentenced for gun trafficking. Rinn Roeun, 34, of San Francisco, was given a six-year prison term and Barry House, 48, of Pittsburg, was sentenced to four years.
One of the charges still pending against Roeun is participating in a never-completed murder-for-hire plot in which he is accused of agreeing to arrange, for $25,000, the murder of a fictitious victim described by the lead undercover FBI agent.
The sentencing of another defendant, George Nieh, who is alleged by prosecutors to have been a driver and “a sort of right hand” for Chow, was postponed until July 11.
Three of the original defendants – Andy Li, Kongphet Chanthavong and Albert Nhingsavath – pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in plea agreements and became prosecution witnesses in Chow’s trial. Prosecutors said in a brief last month that they are awaiting sentencing.