SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An attorney for a man accused of murder and racketeering in an organized crime case centered in San Francisco's Chinatown railed Tuesday against federal prosecutors for using what he called secret surveillance and shady witnesses against an innocent man.
However, the prosecutor maintained in her closing argument that Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow was an unrepentant liar and mastermind behind an enterprise that engaged in drug trafficking, money laundering and sales of stolen cigarettes and alcohol.
The widely watched case went to a jury Tuesday after a two-month trial.
J. Tony Serra, Chow's lead attorney, said in his closing argument that the prosecution case was built on "shadows of evidence, the echoes of evidence."
He derided the prosecution's use of testimony from Chow's alleged co-conspirators and an undercover federal agent who posed as a member of an East Coast crime syndicate during the four-year investigation.
"These are snakes," Serra told jurors. "Would you believe a talking snake? You will not, no one will."
Federal prosecutor Susan Badger on Monday urged jurors to disregard claims that Chow was a changed man, saying deception was part of his nature.
"He is not the victim here," Badger said during her nearly four-hour presentation. "He is not the world's most misunderstood criminal."
As part of a sweeping racketeering case, prosecutors allege that Chow ordered the killing of a rival gang leader and conspired to kill another rival.
Chow took the witness stand during the trial, saying he was innocent of the charges and had previously renounced his life of crime.
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 Sen. Leland Yee.
Yee pleaded guilty to a racketeering count in July alleging he accepted bribes from Chow's associates and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10.
Chow testified to dealing drugs and getting involved in a street gang but said he decided to renounce criminal activity after engaging in meditation.
He denied involvement in the slayings and said the agent gave him the money because the agent was looking out for him, not in exchange for criminal activity.