The trial of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow continues today, and yesterday one of prosecutors' first witnesses who was a former Chow associate who struck a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony finished testifying and faced cross-examination from Chow's attorney Tony Serra. This was alleged Chow enforcer Kongphet “Fat Joe” Chanthavong who, as KQED reports, privy to talk by Chow of "taking care of" rival Chinatown gang leader Jim Tat Kong of the Hop Sing Tong. Kong was later killed in 2013 along with his wife in Mendocino, and Chanthavong testified that another Chow associate, Andy Li, believed Chow would have him killed next.
Chanthavong also testified that he was part of the team who plotted the 2006 killing of Allen Leung, Chow's predecessor as dragonhead of the Ghee Kung Tong.
But Serra, on cross-examination, was having none of this, and sought to discredit Chanthavong however he could. As the Examiner reports, he painted Chanthavong as an outsider who admitted himself that the Chinatown gangs didn't trust outsiders he is part Laotian and part Thai and does not speak Cantonese.
Also, Serra brought up his drug dealing, for which he'd been previously convicted, saying, "You don’t have respect for the law do you? You sell cocaine. You sell crack. You sell guns. You sell marijuana, and when you do all this, you’ve got two felony priors, isn’t that right?"
He made sure the jury knew that Chanthavong was testifying at the behest of the government, too, in exchange for leniency in his own case. Chanthavong was directly ensnared by an undercover federal agent who posed as an East Coast mob figure named Dave Jordan to whom he sold drugs and guns.
"So, isn’t it in your motivation to please the government?” Serra asked. “Isn’t that what this is all about?”
“Yes,” replied Chanthavong.
“You are desperate?” Serra asked. “You will say anything because you’re desperate.”
“Isn’t that why you’re here?” Serra said. “You don’t want to go away for 140 years or 40 years or 20 years or 10 years. You’re seeking only to save your own skin.”
Chanthavong clarified that he also had another reason for testifying, and it's because he felt "thrown under the bus" by Chow, who suspected that Jordan was a federal agent but let Chanthavong do business with him anyway the feds played wiretaps for Chanthavong proving that Chow used him just to find out whether Jordan with the feds. “I did it because I was pissed off,” Chanthavong said. “I was lied to. I was betrayed... I was expendable.”
Chanthavong is one of at least three associates the government has who have turned on Chow and are testifying for the prosecution. Also coming up will be Kam Wong, a man who claims he drove the two men to the site of Leung's murder, and then drove them to Oakland afterward, at which point they disassembled their guns and tossed them off the Bay Bridge.
Chow faces over a hundred counts of various offenses, and this isn't even primarily a murder trial. He's also charged with racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and drug trafficking.
Addendum: C.W. Nevius was in the courtroom on Thursday too, and he would like to scold any and all of you who think there's anything funny about this. "Listen to the testimony about guns, violence and drugs. It isn’t so hilarious."