The latest from the trial of Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow was yesterday's cross-examination of prosecution witness "David Jordan," an undercover federal agent whose real name we do not know but who appears to have conducted a bunch of illegal "business" with Chow's help in what can sound, at times, like the ABSCAM case depicted in American Hustle. And that's exactly what defense attorney Tony Serra is arguing: Chow was entrapped, and his poor English skills meant that he didn't always understand what he was agreeing to.
As reported in the Chronicle, Serra was joined by defense attorney Curtis Briggs in cross-examining Jordan, trying to get him to admit that Chow never directly engaged in any crimes. "Mr. Chow’s mantra was to keep [himself] out of it," the agent said. "A typical organized-crime mantra."
Briggs also got into semantics with Jordan, saying that terms like "the hustle," and "tax-free" used to mean that something was stolen, which Jordan can be heard using on wiretap recordings, might have been lost on Chow, given that English was his second language.
“Don’t you want to be careful before putting words in somebody’s mouth or using language they didn’t understand?” the defense lawyer asked.
“Not particularly,” the agent replied. He said Chow is “a pretty smart man,” and “I communicated with him pretty well.”
As the Examiner tells it, the defense also discussed the various times that Jordan had offered kickbacks to Chow for helping connect him to various underground deals, and how Chow would always initially refuse but typically took the money. "Can you point to me in that dialogue where you told him what that money was for?" Briggs asked, and he also asked, "Did they tell you it would be disrespectful if he refused it?"
Jordan said no, but he could have stopped taking the money at any time, or given back.
The defense also questioned if Jordan, in infiltrating his first ever Asian crime syndicate, ever bothered to learn any Cantonese to prepare. “I didn’t take an active interest in learning Cantonese,” Jordan said.
Cross examination was expected to continue into today.