In the latest twist involving disgraced state senator Leland Yee and his alleged gangster accomplice Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, the peaceful Facebook user and admitted criminal has brought in a new legal team—including one attorney who did federal time for tax evasion and was once played in a movie by James Woods.
"Renowned defense attorney" J. Tony Serra will head up Shrimp Boy's aggressive new legal defense, SF Appeal scoops today, alongside fellow attorneys Greg M. Bentley and Curtis L. Briggs. According to Briggs, Shrimp Boy's defense will be an attempt to put the government on trial for police misconduct and unfairly targeting Chow and the Chinese community itself.
Serra, who is a 79-year-old cannabis advocate from Bolinas, is something of an old-school San Francisco rabble rouser himself. In 2005, he was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison after he refused to pay taxes from the late 90s. Before that, he was sentenced to four months in prison in 1974 when he protested the Vietnam War by also failing to file tax returns. Despite skirting the law with the IRS, several prominent local lawyers including Public Defender Jeff Adachi vouched for his character as a defender of the poor and downtrodden.
Serra counts Black Panther leader Huey Newton and members of the Hells Angels among his list of controversial former clients, but his real Hollywood moment came when James Woods played a character based on him in the 1989 legal drama True Believer about a gangland murder in San Francisco's Chinatown. By way of introducing the character of Eddie Dodd/Tony Serra, the film's trailer explains, "some idiot took the case:"
With the unstoppable star power of James Woods behind him, Shrimp Boy is likely looking to "put on a very vigorous defense," UC Hasting legal scholar David Levine told the Appeal. Chow, who has already served time for racketeering and armed robbery, claims he's cleaned up his act in recent years and is also working to clean up Chinatown through volunteer work with at-risk youth. According to his new lawyers, Chow will be looking to take the case to a jury trial so they can see what an upstanding "social justice advocate" he has become.
His "Shrimp Boy" nickname, in case you were wondering, apparently came from his grandmother.