Five associates of convicted murderer and former Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco this week to reduced charges of organized-crime activities.
Three pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to laundering the profits of drug sales and two pleaded guilty to buying and selling stolen whisky or contraband cigarettes. Prosecutors will drop other charges against them in exchange for their guilty pleas.
The five defendants were among 29 people indicted in 2014 in a case that included both racketeering charges against Chow and tong associates and political corruption charges against former state Sen. Leland Yee and his campaign fundraiser.
Chow, the only one to go trial thus far, was convicted in January 2016 of 162 counts, including racketeering conspiracy and the 2006 murder in aid of racketeering of his predecessor as leader of the Chee Kung Tong association.
He was sentenced by Breyer in August to two life terms in federal prison.
Yee, a Democrat who represented parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County, and political consultant Keith Jackson pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiring to accept bribes of campaign contributions in exchange for political favors. Breyer sentenced Yee to five years in prison and Jackson to nine.
Most of the other defendants have pleaded guilty to various charges.
The five-year investigation by FBI undercover agents posing as a Mafia member, drug dealers and businessmen began as a probe of an alleged criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong but eventually led to Yee through Jackson’s activities.
In this week’s guilty pleas, entered before Breyer on Wednesday, Anthony Lai and Gary Chen each pleaded guilty to two counts of laundering drug proceeds and Elaine Liang pleaded to one count. They will be sentenced on May 10.
Brian Tilton pleaded guilty to conspiring to receive and sell stolen Johnny Walker Scotch Whisky and Tong Zao Zhang pleaded guilty to receiving and selling contraband cigarettes that lacked certification of payment of New York state cigarette taxes. They will be sentenced on June 7 and April 12.
Breyer also set a June 12 trial date for Rinn Roeun, accused of conspiring in a never-completed murder-for-hire scheme and selling guns without a license, and Barry House, who faces charges of illegal gun possession and sales.