Jury convicts Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow of Chinatown crimes

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San Francisco's 'Shrimp Boy' Crime Boss Found Guilty on 162 Counts

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A one-time gang tough nicknamed "Shrimp Boy" who insisted he had changed his ways through meditation and become a role model for wayward youth has been convicted of racketeering, murder and scores of other crimes in a major organized crime investigation in San Francisco's Chinatown that also brought down a state senator.

The conviction on Friday of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow was largely the work of an undercover FBI agent who posed for years as a foul-mouthed East Coast businessman with mafia ties, as he infiltrated the fraternal group that Chow led. The group was among dozens of active tongs, or family associations, in Chinatown, one of the most popular and visible tourist attractions in the city.

Authorities said Chow and some other members of the group engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and top-shelf liquors Johnny Walker Blue Label and Hennessey XO.

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Jurors convicted the 56-year-old Chow of all 162 charges against him, including racketeering, murder and conspiracy to commit murder. One of the victims was Allen Leung, the former leader of the fraternal group, who was shot and killed at his business in 2006 as his wife looked on.

See photos from the trial:

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Raymond Chow, 'Shrimp Boy'
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Jury convicts Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow of Chinatown crimes
FILE - In this March 26, 2014 file photo, an FBI agent carries out boxes of evidence following a search of a Chinatown fraternal organization in San Francisco. Raymond âShrimp Boyâ Chow, a dapper former San Francisco gang leader who portrayed himself as a reformed criminal, was the focus of a lengthy organized crime investigation in Chinatown that ended up snaring a corrupt California senator and more than two dozen others. With opening arguments in Chowâs scheduled Monday, prosecutors finally will get their chance to convict him of racketeering, murder and money laundering charges that could put him away for life. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Supporters of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, wear Free Shrimp Boy shirts while listening to speakers at a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday, April 10, 2014. Chow, the leader of the Chinatown organization the FBI says is a front for organized crime, and state Sen. Leland Yee were arrested on March 26 as part of an FBI sting targeting political corruption and an alleged organized crime syndicate based in San Francisco's Chinatown. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Curtis Briggs, center, and Tony Serra, both attorneys for Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, pictured at left, speak at a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday, April 10, 2014. Chow, the leader of the Chinatown organization the FBI says is a front for organized crime, and state Sen. Leland Yee were arrested on March 26 as part of an FBI sting targeting political corruption and an alleged organized crime syndicate based in San Francisco's Chinatown. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Tony Serra, right, an attorney for Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, pictured at left, listens to speakers at a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday, April 10, 2014. Chow, the leader of the Chinatown organization the FBI says is a front for organized crime, and state Sen. Leland Yee were arrested on March 26 as part of an FBI sting targeting political corruption and an alleged organized crime syndicate based in San Francisco's Chinatown. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman who wished to remain unidentified, center, covers her face while standing among reporters and supporters of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow at a news conference in San Francisco, Thursday, April 10, 2014. Chow, the leader of the Chinatown organization the FBI says is a front for organized crime, and state Sen. Leland Yee were arrested on March 26 as part of an FBI sting targeting political corruption and an alleged organized crime syndicate based in San Francisco's Chinatown. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Tony Serra, left, and Curtis Briggs, attorneys for Raymond Chow, speak to the media outside of the San Francisco Federal courthouse after Chow entered a plea of not guilty to a newly filed indictment in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The indictment says he served as gang leader of a corrupt Chinatown community organization that bribed a state senator and laundered money, among other crimes. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Tony Serra, left, and Curtis Briggs, attorneys for Raymond Chow, leave the San Francisco Federal courthouse after Chow entered a plea of not guilty to a newly filed indictment in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The indictment says he served as gang leader of a corrupt Chinatown community organization that bribed a state senator and laundered money, among other crimes. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
J. Tony Serra, lead attorney for Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, with his defense team behind him speaks during a news conference Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. A jury convicted Chow of racketeering, murder and other counts Friday after a years-long federal undercover investigation centered in the Chinatown district of San Francisco. The defense plans to appeal, claiming a federal judge wrongly limited their case. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Passengers disembark a cable car in the Chinatown district Thursday, March 27, 2014, in San Francisco. Beneath the strings of red paper lanterns and narrow alleyways of the nation's oldest Chinatown lies an underworld, a place with a history of opium dens, gambling houses and gangland murders. Federal investigators say it's also where Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow operated a criminal empire while projecting a public image of community servant. The allegations against Chow are part of an FBI sting that names 25 other defendants, including state Sen. Leland Yee. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Chow, sporting dapper suits and a beaming smile, told jurors at his trial he renounced his drug-dealing and gangster ways after leaving prison in 2003 and turning to meditation. He also was working on a biography, he said.

The smile disappeared Friday, when he stared straight ahead and showed little reaction to the guilty verdicts that could bring life in prison when he is sentenced on March 23.

"It's clear the jury didn't believe a thing about what Chow's defense said," said Rory Little, a law professor at the University of California, Hastings and a former federal prosecutor.

The verdicts marked a big victory for prosecutors, who have now secured convictions against two of the most prominent defendants among the more than two dozen people indicted in the case.

California state Sen. Leland Yee was suspended before pleading guilty in July to a racketeering count involving bribes. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10.

"This conviction represents a just and final end to Mr. Chow's long running and deadly criminal career," San Francisco FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said in a statement.

Chow's defense attorneys said they plan an appeal. One of the attorneys, Curtis Briggs, said Senior District Judge Charles Breyer unfairly limited the defense case by refusing to let a number of witnesses testify. He also said Breyer appeared not to be paying attention during the trial. Breyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Defense attorney J. Tony Serra said Chow was "noble in his acceptance of defeat" and told his attorneys they would prevail in the next round.

One of the prosecution's main witnesses against Chow was the undercover FBI agent, who testified under a false name that he wined and dined Chow and his associates for years. Chow willingly accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash for setting up various crimes, the agent said.

Serra argued that the government had set up his client by foisting the envelopes on him and courting him with expensive dinners and liquor purchased with public money.

Chow denied involvement in the slayings and other crimes and said he was given the money because the agent was showing his respect, not in exchange for criminal activity.

During her closing argument, federal prosecutor Susan Badger urged jurors to disregard claims that Chow was a changed man, saying deception was part of his nature.

"He is not the victim here," Badger said during her nearly four-hour presentation. "He is not the world's most misunderstood criminal."

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Associated Press writer Kristin Bender contributed to this report.

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