Feds: Leland Yee shook down NFL team, 'Shrimp Boy' headed organized crime group 

click to enlarge Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow
  • AP Photo/Sing Tao Daily, File
  • Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow is shown after being sworn in as the "Dragon Head" of the Ghee Kung Tong in Chinatown in San Francisco. A new indictment file Friday said Ghee Kung Tong was an organized crime outfit led by Chow.

Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow led an organized crime outfit - the Chinatown-based fraternal organization Gee Kung Tong - whose members committed a raft of crimes such as racketeering, arms trafficking and murder-for-hire schemes, according to a new indictment filed Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The new indictment, which further details the alleged activities of Gee Kung Tong (which is also spelled Ghee Kung Tong) members, also details alleged bribes and payoffs taken by suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and his compatriot, former San Francisco school board member Keith Jackson.

Those include bribes to change Yee's vote in regards to rules governing workers' compensation for NFL players, along with votes on medical marijuana laws and payments taken in order to facilitate the purchase of arms - specifically missile systems - in the Philippines.

Yee, Chow and 21 others charged in the case - facing counts of extortion, arms trafficking, murder for hire, and drug trafficking and sales, among others - were arrested in an series of FBI raids in March that netted suspects from across the Bay Area and beyond.

Yee, Chow and Jackson have all pleaded not guilty to the original charges.

Along with the new charges of running an organized crime organization, which also were leveled against Yee and Jackson, Chow is charged with money laundering, transporting stolen property across state lines and trafficking stolen cigarettes.

As for the state senator and his lieutenant, according to the document, "Yee and Jackson engaged in criminal activity, including wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, extortion, trafficking in firearms and money laundering."

While little is new in the superseding indictment against the 23 defendants, details of when and exactly how they committed the alleged crimes are explained, along with the nature of the operations.

The Gee Kung Tong is painted as a criminal organization led by its "Dragonhead," Chow, whose members protected the "name, reputation and status of the group...from harm, insult or disrespect" and were "expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence."

In terms of details, the filing shows exactly how much tong members allegedly paid for 10,000 stolen cigarettes: $5,000.

It also details the numerous money laundering schemes and amounts of money laundered from illegal operations, including selling cocaine, heroine and marijuana. Additionally, in relation to possessing and selling firearms illegally, it lists more than 30 weapons seized, including an AK-47 and other assault rifles.

In Yee's case, the documents specifically allege that he took $10,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent for facilitating a March 4 meeting with a state senator on marijuana legislation.

In another case, Yee is accused of being paid $10,000 in cash by an undercover FBI agent in November 2012 for making a favorable call to a state agency on behalf of Well Tech, an FBI front company.

Yee and Jackson are also being charged with extorting people "in relation to the California State Athletics Commission and the mixed-martial arts industry pertaining" to the commission's future regulation of certain sports. Additionally, Yee and Jackson allegedly extorted "professional sports teams and individuals in relation" to laws governing workers' compensation.

At one meeting with an undercover FBI agent, Jackson allegedly told Yee that the agent knew the owner of an NFL team. Yee then told the agent about a pending law that would limit NFL players from filing workers' compensation claims in the state if they played for out of state teams. Yee told the agent that he should "convey this information to the owner of the NFL team" with an offer of help from Yee. Asked about the cost of such a vote, Yee reportedly said, "Oh no...we gotta drag it out, man. We gotta juice this thing."

When the agent later offered $60,000 for the vote, Yee allegedly agreed even though no such payment was made.

The new filing also details alleged payments taken March 11 by Jackson from an FBI agent in the amount of $6,800. The payment included a list of weapons to pass to Wilson Lim, a San Mateo County dentist, in order to purchase arms in the Philippines.

The filing states the trafficking charges were specifically related to dealing in "missile systems designed to destroy aircraft."

Despite the new details, at least one defense lawyer in the case says little additional information has been revealed against his client.

"This new indictment is merely a resuscitation of the previous accusations with no new facts regarding my client," said Curtis Briggs, who along with Tony Serra is representing Chow. "The prosecution has no further insight into the Ghee Kung Tong and they have gained nothing in the last 90 days to help them prove my client had knowledge of any wrong doing."

Briggs said superseding indictments usually give prosecutors time in order to get witnesses and informants to cooperate so that the charges can be enhanced.

In this case, said Briggs, the new indictment shows a failure on "the part of the government to further this investigation and I look forward to a jury trial."

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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