San Francisco Chinatown gang leader gets life in prison

Byby Melanie Woodrow KGO logo
Friday, August 5, 2016
San Francisco Chinatown gang leader gets life in prison
A judge has sentenced a San Francisco Chinatown gang leader known as "Shrimp Boy" to life in prison for killing a rival.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A former Chinatown gang leader will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The sentence for Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow is the longest yet handed down in a wide-ranging corruption case.

RELATED: ABC7 News interviews Raymond 'Shrimp Boy Chow in jail

It took down State Sen. Leland Yee who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. The former state senator is now in federal prison and is due to be released in 2020.

Chow said he will appeal his sentence handed down Thursday for 162 charges, including racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

RELATED: Prosecutor says Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow was ruthless thug

The government said a life sentence was not only mandated, it was appropriate. Chow's girlfriend says he will appeal, calling his sentencing the beginning, not the end.

Chow's life sentence follows a massive undercover FBI investigation that netted 29 people including, Yee.

In court, the government described Chow as manipulative and power hungry, an assessment he denied.

The judge said the most powerful evidence for sentencing included recordings of Chow corroborated by a large number of witnesses as well as his own declaration in court that he is not going to change. "Raymond changed his life and he said he would not change, meaning he's not changing back and that's another example of how something is taken out of context," Chow's girlfriend Alicia Lo said.

After Chow was previously released from prison supporters say he mentored hundreds of teens.

"He hit their heart. He really made kids want to make better choices in life," supporter Rudy Corpuz said.

But the government and judge said those efforts were overshadowed by Chow's quest for power.

During trial an undercover FBI agent testified he gave Chow cash for arranging illegal activities.

In a February jailhouse interview, Chow told ABC7 News he thought the money was a sign of respect. "I mean my own community, my elders put money in my pocket all the time," Chow said.

Prosecutors say Chow killed a rival in 2006 and took over a Chinese fraternal group that had members that engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and some top-shelf liquor.

Addressing the court Thursday, Chow said he had many problems with his attorneys.

He also said, "I'm not apologizing to the victim. I feel sorry for them because they didn't get the right guy."

Chow's girlfriend says he will appeal. "Now we'll be able to have a better team with us and go forward and hopefully the justice system will be just," she said.

While the judge called the government's investigation entirely appropriate.

Chow's attorney asked that he be housed as close to San Francisco as possible, a request the judge denied saying he'd leave it to the federal bureau of prisons to decide.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.