Evidence in racketeering case is flimsy: Lawyer

2016-01-06 12:31


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San Francisco - An attorney for a man accused of murder and racketeering in a San Francisco Chinatown organised crime investigation has railed against federal prosecutors for using what he called secret surveillance and shady witnesses.

Tony Serra, lead attorney for defendant Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, said in his closing argument that the prosecution case was built on "shadows of evidence...the echoes of evidence."

Life of crime

Chow was charged in an investigation involving an undercover federal agent posing as a member of an East Coast crime syndicate.

Chow took the witness stand during the trial, saying he was innocent of the charges and had previously renounced his life of crime.

Prosecutors have accused Chow of taking over a Chinese fraternal group with criminal ties after having its previous leader killed and running an enterprise that engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and sales of stolen cigarettes and alcohol. He is also alleged to have conspired to kill another gang rival.

Serra - a flamboyant and well-known defence lawyer - derided the prosecution's evidence as flimsy, saying it was based on secret recordings and shady testimony from Chow's former colleagues.

"These are snakes," he told jurors. "Would you believe a talking snake? You will not...no one will."

During her closing argument in the courtroom of US District Judge Charles Breyer, federal prosecutor Susan Badger urged jurors to disregard claims that Chow was a changed man, saying deception was part of his nature.

Money launderers

"He is not the victim here," Badger said during her nearly four-hour presentation. "He is not the world's most misunderstood criminal."

The undercover FBI agent testified that he spent hours with Chow and people connected to him at fancy restaurants and nightclubs, recording many of their conversations.

The agent, who testified under a pseudonym to protect his identity, said Chow tried to distance himself from any criminal activity during the probe but repeatedly accepted money after introducing the agent to money launderers.

The probe led to the indictment of more than two dozen people in 2014 and the racketeering conviction of state Senator Leland Yee.

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