Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow

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Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow
Born Chow Kwok-cheung
(1959-12-31) December 31, 1959 (age 57)
Hong Kong
Other names Shrimp Boy
Occupation Former Triad member
Conviction(s) Murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, aggravated assault, illegal possession of firearms, racketeering.
Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow
Traditional Chinese 周國祥
Simplified Chinese 周国祥

Raymond Chow Kwok-cheung (Chinese: 周國祥; born December 31, 1959), nicknamed "Shrimp Boy", is a Hong Kong-born felon with ties to a San Francisco Chinatown street gang and an organized crime syndicate, including the American branch of the Hong Kong-based triad Wo Hop To[1] and the Hop Sing Boys.

In 2006, Chow became the leader of the Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinese fraternal association based in San Francisco, California. In 2014, Chow along with 28 other defendants including former California State Senator Leland Yee, were indicted for racketeering, money laundering, and a host of other alleged criminal activities. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to racketeering in July 2015 for conspiring with his campaign fundraiser to defeat donation limits through money laundering. Despite initial press releases, Chow was not indicted in a racketeering conspiracy with Leland Yee. Chow was indicted in a racketeering conspiracy which alleged that he oversaw a criminal faction of the Ghee Kung Tong. Chow is the only co-defendant of 29 to publicly profess his innocence and ask for an expedited jury trial. His trial began on November 9, 2015.[2] On January 8, 2016, Chow was found guilty on all 162 counts, including one of murder which carries a probable life sentence.

Personal life[edit]

Chow was born on December 31, 1959 in Hong Kong.[3] He is of Taishanese descent, and has four brothers. On the program Gangland, Chow said he first joined a gang in his native Hong Kong when he was nine years old.[4] Chow came to the United States at the age of 16, and was reportedly nicknamed "Shrimp Boy" by his grandmother, due to his small stature. He dropped out of high school and became involved with the Hop Sing Tong gang.[5]

From 2008 until his arrest, Chow lived with Alicia Lo, her 11-year-old daughter, and two dogs. Chow had publicly renounced his former life of crime, and Lo, a UC Berkeley graduate without Chow's criminal ties, believed she was gradually rehabilitating Chow by introducing him to mainstream American culture.[6]

Criminal activities[edit]

Chow's first conviction was in 1978, for robbery in Chinatown, San Francisco. Chow received an 11-year sentence,[1] of which he served 7 years and 4 months. He was released in 1985. In 1986, Chow was charged with 28 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, mayhem, and illegal possession of a firearm. He served three years in prison and was released in 1989.[1] In 1992 Chow was arrested for racketeering, later separated into two separate trials. The first was for illegal gun sales and the second was for prostitution, drugs and money laundering. Convicted in 1995, Chow was sentenced to 24 years.[1] When Peter Chong was captured, Chow became an informant, turned informer on his old boss, testifying against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. He was released from prison in 2003. In 1996, Chow was tried again for racketeering, but the indictment was dismissed.

Activities after release[edit]

As a condition of his release, Chow surrendered his visa.[clarification needed] He requested witness protection but his request was denied by the prosecuting attorney. Chow was also required to wear a tracking device.[7][8] He also became a member of Hung Moon Ghee Kong Tong, a fraternal association in San Francisco sometimes referred to as the Chinese Freemasons.[7]

2014 arrest[edit]

On March 26, 2014, Raymond Chow was arrested during an FBI raid in connection with an investigation into official corruption by State Senator Leland Yee. Chow faced charges of money laundering and conspiracy to deal stolen property. He was accused of operating a faction, or subgroup in the Ghee Kung Tong, a benevolent association, as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in drugs, weapons, and stolen items.[9] Federal authorities alleged Chow's reformation was a façade.[10] In April 2014, trial lawyer Tony Serra joined Chow's defense team.[11]

Chow was charged with seven counts of money laundering, two counts of conspiring to transport and receive stolen liquor, and one count of conspiracy to traffic untaxed cigarettes. He faced a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for each money laundering count.[12]

On July 7, 2015, Chow declined to take a plea deal from prosecutors on the racketeering charges. His trial began on November 9, 2015.[2] On January 8, 2016, Chow was found guilty on all 162 counts, including one count of murder, which carries a life sentence. He was sentenced to two life terms on August 4, 2016.

Connection to murders[edit]

On October 15, 2015, Chow was charged with conspiracy to murder in connections with the deaths of two men: Allen Leung, who was shot to death by a masked intruder inside his San Francisco import-export business in February 2006, and Jim Tat Kong, a member of the Hop Sing Tong gang in San Francisco, who was fatally shot in Mendocino County in October 2013. Kong, along with his wife, were found dead from gunshot wounds in their minivan near Fort Bragg. Chow has not been charged with Kong's wife's death.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Isaacs, Matt (June 14, 2000). "Twice Burned". SF Weekly. Retrieved December 5, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Bob Egelko (November 10, 2015). "‘Shrimp Boy’ depicted as ruthless killer, wise leader as trial opens". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  3. ^ "USA v. Raymond Chow: Motion to Dismiss for Selective Prosecution". United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ Mozingo, Joe (March 28, 2014). "Who is 'Shrimp Boy' Chow? A look at his violent past, alleged reform". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ Burke, Garanace (March 28, 2014). "FBI sting shows San Francisco Chinatown underworld". Associated Press. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ Weil, Elizabeth (October 13, 2015). "Shrimp Boy’s Day in Court: What happened when one of San Francisco’s most notorious underworld bosses tried to go clean". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2015. When Lo began Shrimp Boy’s re-education, she told me, she treated him ‘‘as a foreigner’’ or ‘‘like a baby.’’ ‘‘He was so out of place in society,’’ 
  7. ^ a b Spicuza, Mary (August 1, 2007). "Enter the Dragon Head". SF Weekly. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 
  8. ^ Lee, Vic (September 7, 2007). "Financier Norman Hsu's Sordid Past". KGO-TV. Retrieved September 9, 2007. 
  9. ^ Egelko, Robert (June 30, 2015). "Ex-Sen. Leland Yee may be headed for a plea deal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ Lee, Vic (March 26, 2014). "State Sen. Yee indicted on public corruption charges". KGO-TV. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ Egelko, Bob (April 8, 2014). "Calif. state Sen. Yee: Tony Serra joins 'Shrimp Boy' defense". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ Coté, John (April 12, 2014). "The enigma of Raymond Chow, the self-proclaimed ex-gangster". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  13. ^ Egelko, Bob (October 16, 2015). "Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow charged in killing of alleged Chinatown rivals". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 10, 2015.