The fate of Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, the alleged leader of the Ghee Kung Tong crime syndicate in SF's Chinatown accused of racketeering, murder, and many other things, now rests in the hands of a jury. Closing arguments concluded Tuesday with flamboyant defense attorney Tony Serra calling the prosecution's case a frivolous and over-enthusiastic chase after a "trophy" conviction, based on turncoat informants, after spending over $1 million wining and dining a man who was trying to set himself straight after a former life of crime.
Meanwhile the prosecution, as the Examiner reports, refuted Serra's claims in their rebuttal, and said his closing argument contained few facts to weigh against their "mountain" of evidence against Chow.
As KRON 4 quotes, Serra called that "shadows of evidence, the echoes of evidence,” and flimsy when all is said and done.
Amusingly, Serra pulled no punches when it came to attacking the prosecution's witnesses, who included an undercover federal agent known only as David Jordan, a pseudonym, and multiple former colleagues of Chow's who were testifying only to have charges against themselves reduced. Per the Chron and elsewhere, Serra called them all "scumbags" and "snakes," and said of the prosecution's sweep for witnesses, "They went to the toilet and they scraped the bowl."
He also said, "You find sick people in law enforcement and you find it in informants," and attacked the character of Jordan saying, he had a "Judas syndrome" in his dealings with Chow, "To kiss and then to kill."
Grandly, he concluded his passionate, anti-government closing statement saying, "The most glorious, freedom-fraught words in any criminal litigation is not guilty. It’s like church bells. It means we are a free society."
On the prosecution side, federal prosecutor Susan Badger urged the jury to ignore whatever Serra and Chow had said during the trial about Chow being a changed man, saying that deception is part of his nature and "He is not the victim here. He is not the world’s most misunderstood criminal."
In a Chronicle opinion piece, though, Debra Saunders points out that Serra has a point about this "mountain" of wiretap evidence, in which Serra argues there is no smoking gun to prove that Chow directed or participated in any crimes. "But really, after years of audio surveillance, you’d think prosecutors would have enough evidence to put Chow away for a long time without cutting deals [with witnesses who are themselves criminals]. If they don’t have the goods without deals for leniency, what does that say?"
All previous coverage of the Shrimp Boy case here.