Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow took the witness stand Monday in his racketeering trial that has also turned into an ersatz murder trial, serving as the first witness in his defense after five weeks of prosecution testimony. As the Chronicle and CBS 5 report, Chow painted a dramatically different picture of his activities in the last decade than the prosecution has, describing how, after being let out of prison in 2003 in exchange for testimony against former Peter Chong — who he claims stole his lawyer — he meditated one day at Ocean Beach and decided to end his life of crime. "I change myself," he said. "I tell myself I’m not going to cross the line and commit the crime."

Defense attorney Tony Serra led Chow through questions about his overall criminal activity — in what essentially sounds like a pinky swear about his entire Chinatown life since 2004 — asking "Did you make a vow not to engage in criminal activity?” and “Have you fulfilled that vow?”, both of which questions Chow answered in the affirmative.

Also, Chow insists he did not order the 2006 killing of Allen Leung, Chow's predecessor as dragonhead of the Ghee Kung Tong, something the FBI has accused him of in the course of the trial.

As ABC News reports, Chow claims he was "hounded" by police and that often when undercover agents instigated crimes for which others were arrested, then bringing tribute payments back to him, the money was often forced on him when he was drunk.

Chow also says he was wronged by the feds when he was released from prison in 2003, having put himself in a potentially dangerous situation by testifying against Chong, they reneged on a promise to put him witness protection in a new city.

Serra has sought to establish the narrative that Chow was entrapped by federal agents who spent years on this investigation, ensnaring or potentially ensnaring multiple local politicians and city staffers in the process. The also spent upwards of $1 million wining and dining Shrimp Boy and his associates, something that they gladly accepted.

The primary undercover agent, who went by the name David Jordan, was likely pegged as an undercover agent by Shrimp Boy, though it is unclear when. Jordan testified over several days in November, and Serra sought to discredit him in part by wondering why he never bothered to learn any Chinese despite heading into the world of Chinatown gangs for multiple years.

All previous coverage of the Shrimp Boy trial on SFist.