SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge refused Thursday to throw out a racketeering case against a man arrested in a money laundering and corruption probe centered in San Francisco's Chinatown that also led to charges against a California state senator.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer rejected arguments by lawyers for Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow that he was being selectively prosecuted while other people caught in the government probe were let go.
Chow, the elected "dragonhead" of the Chinese fraternal group known as the Ghee Kung Tong, was arrested after a years-long investigation that also ensnared state Sen. Leland Yee.
Chow — a broad smile on his face — appeared in court for Thursday's hearing in leg shackles. He has pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other charges.
Yee was suspended from the Legislature after being charged last year and is no longer a member of the Senate. Yee pleaded guilty to racketeering last month. Sentencing is set for Oct. 21.
The FBI alleges Ghee Kung Tong was a racketeering enterprise, and that undercover agents laundered $2.6 million in cash from illegal bookmaking through the organization.
While claiming selective prosecution, Curtis Briggs, an attorney for Chow, said wiretaps implicated San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in the case. Lee was never charged and the judge said there was no incriminating evidence in the documents provided by Briggs.
"What I'm saying is every piece of paper I've looked at is consistent with innocence, not with guilt," Breyer said.
Briggs in court documents had also asked the court to allow him to question witnesses and review documents to reveal the "true motivations" behind prosecutors' decision to charge his client. Breyer rejected that request as well.