Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a Chinatown association leader accused of money laundering and plotting to sell stolen goods, asked a federal magistrate in San Francisco Thursday to grant him release on bail.
Chow's bid for bail will be heard on June 11 by U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler.
Chow, 54, of San Francisco, is one of 29 defendants in an April 3 corruption and organized-crime indictment that also accuses suspended state Sen. Leland Yee and former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson of soliciting bribes and conspiring in an international arms deal.
Chow has been in custody since his arrest on an earlier criminal complaint on March 27 and had waived a detention hearing until now.
His defense attorney, Tony Serra, said in a brief filed today that Chow, an admitted former gang member who spent years in prison, "swore off the gangster lifestyle, violence and drugs" after completing his most recent sentence in 2003 and is now committed to being a positive role model for young people.
"Chow is a rare example of accountability and non-violence in modern-day San Francisco," Serra wrote.
"Throughout the last decade Chow has tirelessly used his past mistakes to help the San Francisco community to be a safer place," said Serra, who argued that Chow should be granted bail because he is not a flight risk or a danger to the public.
Chow is the "dragonhead" or leader of the Chee Kung Tong organization, a fraternal association that is alleged by prosecutors to have a criminal faction.
Serra wrote in the motion for bail that Chow became active in the group because it is committed to "helping Chinese immigrants assimilate and succeed in a positive way within the constructs of American society."
His selection as its leader in 2006 "was Chow's highest honor and was interpreted by him as an official recognition from his community that he turned his life around," Serra wrote.
The federal grand jury indictment charges Chow with seven counts of laundering money gained from allegedly illegal activity, two counts of conspiring to sell stolen liquor and one count of conspiring to sell stolen cigarettes at various times between 2011 and 2013.
The purportedly stolen goods were provided by an FBI undercover agent who posed as a Mafia member and began infiltrating the Chee Kung Tong in 2010.
Chow is not accused in any of the political corruption counts in the indictment, but he is alleged to have introduced the agent to Jackson, a political consultant who was a campaign fundraiser for Yee.
His request for release does not suggest an amount of bail, but says Chow's girlfriend of the past six years is willing to act as his custodian and post two properties as bond, and that two nieces and another friend are willing to sign signature bonds.
Chow's previous convictions include federal racketeering and gun trafficking convictions and state armed robbery and assault convictions. He admitted when pleading guilty to racketeering in 2000 that he had been a member of the Hop Sing Tong street gang, according to an FBI affidavit filed on May 24.
All defendants in the case are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on July 24 for a status conference. Prosecutors have told the judge they expect to obtain a revised indictment that may include racketeering charges by then.