San Francisco

Jury Returns Guilty Verdict in ‘Shrimp Boy' Trial

Raymond Chow's defense attorneys vowed to appeal.

A San Francisco jury on Friday came back with a guilty verdict  in the murder and racketeering case of Chinatown gang leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, following a two-month trial.

Chow shook his head in disbelief when the verdict was read, and his high-profile and colorful defense attorney, J. Tony Serra vowed to appeal.

“We have been stabbed in the back by the jury," Serra said. "The decision was predicated on five snitches that no one should believe in.”  The prosecution's main witness against Chow was an undercover FBI agent who posed as a foul-mouthed East Coast businessman with mafia ties while infiltrating Chow's organization.

Then Serra added: “There will be a second stage. Chow was noble in defeat and we will prevail in the second round.”

Chow was convicted in all of 162 counts. The murder charge alone carries a mandatory life prison sentence. Judge Charles Breyer scheduled Chow's scheduled for March 23.

In addition to murder, Chow was also convicted in the aid of racketeering for ordering the killing, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to murder another rival, conspiracy to traffic in stolen liquor and cigarettes, and money laundering. The jurors began deliberating on Tuesday.

Federal investigators said Chow took over the Chinese fraternal group, the Ghee Kung Tong, in 2006 after having its previous leader, Allen Leung, murdered. He then ran a racketeering enterprise that engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and alcohol, investigators said. Chow was also convicted of soliciting the murder of Jim Tat Kong, a suspected organized crime figure.

The Chinatown probe also ensnared former California state Sen. Leland Yee, who has pleaded guilty to a racketeering count involving bribes. Yee is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10.

The trial follows on the heels of Chow's other legal troubles more than 15 years ago.

In 2000, Chow pleaded guilty to racketeering for crimes including heroin and cocaine trafficking, attempted murder and robbery, according to an FBI affidavit in Chow's current case. He was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, but served a much shorter sentence after agreeing to testify in another prosecution.

Chow has acknowledged his criminal past, but maintained he went straight in 2003 after completing his federal prison sentence. His defense attorneys had hammered that point home to the jury.

But 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.

The notorious, self-described “sun of the underworld” goes by many names: Kwok Cheung Chow, Raymond Chow, Ha Jai or "Shrimp Boy.” Chow’s arrest during a FBI raid in March 2014 has drawn attention to the gangs that operate out of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

After Chow's arrest, his Facebook and Twitter accounts came under intense scrutiny by the media, with some saying that the case of now-resigned senator and former street gang leader resembled a real-life version of the “The Wire,” “American Hustle” and “House of Cards” all rolled into one.

A History Channel documentary about Chinatown gang wars has resurfaced, in which Chow opens up about his childhood, his violent past and his path to reform.

“I run this city. Who can tell me something I cannot do? Nobody,” Chow says, matter-of-factly, in the opening scene of the documentary, admitting that at one point he controlled the majority of Chinatown’s gangs.

“The world is under my feet. I have my own security. I have everything,” he tells the filmmakers. “You make so much money you don’t even want to count it. I’m not thinking I’m God, but in this city, I’m the man that calls the shots.”

NBC Bay Area's Chuck Coppola, the Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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