Shrimp Boy’s civil lawsuit against SF mayor full of accusations, not evidence 

Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow is suing Mayor Ed Lee and The City for failing to release financial records that allegedly show the mayor’s election campaign took donations from an undercover FBI agent.

But the civil lawsuit filed Thursday makes much more strident claims about Lee, all of which have been described by the mayor’s campaign treasurer as preposterous.

Those claims contend that Lee “conspired to accept bribes” from an undercover FBI agent “by laundering a small portion of the bribes through Lee’s mayoral campaign – in this case reporting a campaign ‘donation’ of just $500 – and putting the rest of the money ultimately to Lee’s personal use or benefit.”

Chow remains in federal custody and faces racketeering charges in a federal corruption case that stemmed from a years-long undercover investigation of Chow and the alleged Chinatown criminal organization he headed.

Chow, suspended state Sen. Leland Yee and a handful of others were arrested in Bay Area-wide FBI sweeps in March.

The federal case has since been put under a gag order, preventing the release of many court documents because Judge Charles Breyer has said they could contain embarrassing information about public figures.

“The public is entitled to know all the facts about political corruption in The City, and we intend to take advantage of every disclosure-forcing law on the books to make sure that the whole truth is told,” said Cory Briggs, who is representing Chow and another client, Alfred Scolari, in the civil suit. Briggs’ brother Curtis, along with Tony Serra, is representing Chow in the federal criminal case.

The Public Records Act request that sparked the lawsuit, made June 30, asked for all records relating to interactions with undercover FBI agents and the mayor.

By the time the request came back – the Mayor’s Office said no records pertaining to the request existed – Chow’s lawyers had discovered at least one public document that should have been handed over.

“When faced with the request for public records that is the subject of this lawsuit he [Lee] knowingly and falsely denied the existence of responsive records,” noted the lawsuit. “He denied their existence because he did not want the public to learn that in fact he had illegally accepted money from a federal undercover agent known as UCE4773.”

“UCE4773” has been identified in news reports as Michael King, the same person who allegedly paid illegal bribes to Yee.

But, according to the lawsuit, while The City said no documents pertaining to alleged FBI agent donations exist, Lee’s own campaign-finance disclosure for the “Ed Lee for Mayor 2011” showed a payment from an alleged undercover FBI agent with pseudonyms, including $250 from Mary Ann King, $500 from Edward King and another $500 from Michael Anthony King.

The lawsuit further alleges that Lee exchanged political favors for FBI donations and that much of the funds given to the campaign but used by Lee personally were not documented.

The records request stemmed from newspaper reports about disclosures by lawyers in the federal corruption case alleging Lee received $20,000 in campaign donations from FBI sources who were then taken off the case for financial misconduct.

Kevin Heneghan, Lee’s campaign treasurer, said the claims in the lawsuit are untrue.

“This is a baseless and frivolous lawsuit with absurd allegations filed by a plaintiff who has been charged with serious crimes by the federal government,” wrote Heneghan in a statement. “We have reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on numerous occasions in an attempt to obtain any information about the assertion that the Federal Bureau of Investigations or others conspired to launder money to the mayor’s 2011 campaign. We take these assertions seriously, and if and when the mayor’s campaign receives any specific information, we will take appropriate actions.”

Recently, Lee’s campaign has attempted to find out if in fact any money came into their coffers from FBI sources.

The lawsuit offered little evidence to support its claims.

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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