Peter Chong (criminal)
|Other names||"Uncle" Chong|
|Occupation||leader of the Wo Hop To syndicate|
|Criminal charge||racketeering, murder-for-hire, extortion, and arson|
Peter Chong (Chinese: 莊炳強; pinyin: Zhuāng Bǐngqiáng, aka "Uncle" Chong, born in 1943) is an organized crime figure previously convicted of racketeering and extortion who has been described by prosecutors as the former leader of the Wo Hop To syndicate in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Chong came to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1982, ostensibly to start a Chinese opera company, but was accused in court documents of becoming the boss of the Wo Hop To (和合桃) crime syndicate in northern California, a gang involved in loan sharking and extorting protection money from restaurants and gambling dens. Witnesses testified that Chong declared he controlled Chinatown. A US Senate report in December 1992 stated "the Wo Hop To is now in control of virtually all Asian organized crime in the Bay Area."
Chong sent an underling to Boston to establish a foothold on the East Coast in 1991. This was a first step in an effort to form an umbrella organization called Tien Ha Wui ("Whole Earth Association") that would dominate crime in Chinatowns throughout the U.S. After the underling was killed, prosecutors alleged that Chong along with Wayne Kwong and Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow were behind a failed plot to murder Boston Chinese underground leader Bike Ming. Chong, Chow and seventeen others were indicted on forty-eight counts of racketeering in 1993. Chong had already left for Hong Kong before his indictment, following an arrest in 1992 on unrelated gambling charges; although he was arrested in Macau in October 1992, he was released two months later, with local authorities stating the 1993 indictment did not provide adequate evidence that Chong was the mastermind. The indictment was amended in 1995, and Chong was arrested in Hong Kong in 1998. After exhausting his appeals, Chong was extradited to the U.S. in 2000.
Arrests, convictions, and appeals
In 2002, Chong was found guilty of racketeering, murder-for-hire, extortion, and arson, and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison. The prosecution was aided by the testimony of Chong's former lieutenant "Shrimp Boy" Chow.
The murder for hire conviction was overturned in 2005 by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals due to a lack of monetary payment to the killers, evidence of proof of involvement was taken to support additional prison time for the racketeering charge. He was thus sentenced to 11 and a half years on the remaining charges. In a separate memorandum, the 9th Circuit upheld the extortion conviction and sufficiency of evidence presented during his trial.
Chong was released from prison on July 29, 2008.
- Lee, Henry K. (19 April 2003). "S.F. man gets 15 years in Chinese gangs case". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- 三藩市華埠幫派老大敲詐勒索判囚11年半上訴庭維持莊炳強刑期 [San Francisco Chinatown boss sentenced to 11 and a half years for extortion; appeal court upholds Peter Chong's prison term]. Mingpao SF. 7 July 2007. Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Spicuzza, Mary (August 1, 2007). "Enter the Dragon Head". SF Weekly. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Isaacs, Matt (June 14, 2000). "Twice Burned". SF Weekly. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- United States v. Chong, 419 F.3d 1076 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Cir. 18 August 2005).
- Wallace, Bill (29 April 2000). "Accused Chinese Syncidate Boss Held / Hong Kong man may be flown here for trial". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Ostrow, Ronald J. (5 November 1991). "Probe Starts to Lift Veil on Asian Organized Crime". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Kushner, David (18 February 2015). "The White Devil Kingpin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
One snowy night in January 1991 after shooting pool at Boston Billiards, [John] Willis went to return [Bike] Ming's Mercedes when he got an ominous voicemail from a friend. "Don't go to Chinatown," his friend warned. Six members of a rival San Francisco Triad had been executed in town, after the Boston crew heard they were making a move for local control. "It went into basically full battle mode," Willis recalls.
Soon after, with the gang wars growing, he was on lookout for a one of Ming's gambling dens, when a crew pulled up and assassinated a Ping On kingpin standing next to him. When one of the gangsters pointed the gun at Willis and pulled the trigger, however, the gun jammed. Willis feared Ming might be the next target, and he was right. As they were leaving a wedding one night, the police apprehended a sniper on the roof of a nearby building, taking aim at Ming, who escaped unharmed.
- "Crime syndicate leaders accused of racketeering". The Deseret News. San Francisco Chronicle. 13 October 1993. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Finz, Stacy (27 October 1999). "Hong Kong OKs Extradition of Crime Ring Suspect / S.F. trail ahead for alleged mastermind". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- "Indictments aimed at denting Chinese mob in Boston". Universal Hub. July 8, 2011.
- Squatriglia, Chuck (27 April 2002). "S.F. man guilty of racketeering / Feds say Peter Chong sought to unify Chinese crime gangs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- "Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow Arrest In San Francisco Brings New Spotlight On Notorious Past". CBS Bay Area. March 26, 2014.
- "Court overturns gang boss' `murder for hire' conviction". Taipei Times. AFP. August 21, 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Egelko, Bob (19 August 2005). "SAN FRANCISCO / Court tosses conviction of reputed Chinatown gang boss / Evidence too weak to support verdict of murder for hire". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Egelko, Bob (7 July 2007). "Racketeering sentence upheld". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- "United States v. Chong, Memorandum No. 03-10222, D.C. No. CR-92-00260-DJL" (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 18 August 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
Peter Chong appeals his conviction on extortion counts stemming from his involvement with the Wo Hop To gang in Northern California. Chong also appeals the district court’s evidentiary rulings. We affirm the district court on all issues.
- Amoruso, David (18 April 2009). "Peter "Uncle" Chong". Gangsters, Inc. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2016.