Judge won’t clear ‘Shrimp Boy,’ says Mayor Lee not implicated

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Judge Finds No Evidence Mayor Lee Committed Crime, Denies Motion by “Shrimp Boy” Lawyers.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge refused Thursday to throw out a racketeering case against a man arrested in a money laundering and corruption probe centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown that also led to charges against a California state senator. District Court Judge Charles Breyer on Thursday denied a motion by defense attorneys for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow that sought to determine why federal authorities pursued a multiyear investigation of their client but seemed to turn a blind eye to crimes they allege were committed by prominent San Francisco politicians, including Mayor Ed Lee. Chow’s defense attorneys, Tony Serra and Curtis Briggs, asked the court to dismiss charges against Chow on the grounds their client was selectively prosecuted and, alternatively, for Breyer to force federal prosecutors and the FBI to turn over memos that could indicate why Lee “suddenly vanished” from the investigation. Chow, the elected “dragonhead” of the Chinese fraternal group known as the Ghee Kung Tong, was arrested after a years-long investigation that also ensnared state Sen.

Thursday’s hearing followed Chow’s explosive Aug. 4 motion that included transcripts from FBI phone taps, body-worn wire recordings and other notes that appear to implicate several political players in San Francisco. Serra and co-counsel Curtis Briggs argued in their motion for dismissal that the FBI had evidence Lee took as much as $20,000 in illegal campaign donations but investigators did not pursue that, preferring to focus on Chow.

Chow’s attorneys argue he was targeted because of his outspokenness, political influence and community organizing through the Chee Kung Tong, a group that federal prosecutors allege was an organized criminal enterprise but Serra and Briggs say did charitable work. Then, from the filing: At this point, JONES realized she was speaking to UCE [undercover employee] 4773, said she called the wrong person back and said “Oh my god, I’m thinking you’re someone from San Jose …. Sorry I had a hectic day today, I really apologize.” She then switched the subject, “Ed knows that you gave the 10,000 … he knows that … he knows that you will give another 10,000. He has been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen liquor, conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and money laundering of the proceeds.

Breyer has since ruled that all future references to “wiretap applications and orders, and the documents incorporated therein, shall be filed under seal and may be disclosed only upon a finding of good cause by this Court.” “There’s nothing in the record that demonstrates that the mayor was involved in the contributions, or splitting it up, or that there was any impermissible quid pro quo,” Breyer said. The indictment included 28 other defendants, including Yee and Jackson, who federal prosecutors implicated in several crimes including a weapons trafficking plot to help fund Yee’s 2011 campaign for mayor and 2014 campaign for secretary of state. Ed Lee sat down at that meeting with three undercover agents from the FBI and very carefully talked about potentially favorable contracts in the city … and then he kind of disappears from the investigation.” “Are you kidding me???” Ed Lee for Mayor 2015 Communications Director P.J. Johnston wrote in an emailed response. “The judge vindicated the Mayor, and you’re pursuing more outrageous accusations by Shrimp Boy … Shrimp Boy’s legal strategy was to smear as many other people as he could. It’s incumbent upon the media to pay at least half as much attention to the exoneration as they paid to the scurrilous accusations.” Chow’s defense team said it didn’t expect the case to be dismissed but had hoped the court would force the government to reveal how the decision was made to stop investigating Lee.

Serra said not allowing them to look at the evidence hampers a potential case for Chow since they can’t be sure if there is evidence that Lee committed a crime that the federal prosecutors are withholding. She said in court that the issue goes to the heart of government separation of powers. “The executive makes the decision who and what to prosecute, whether there is sufficient evidence,” she said. “The courts require a rigorous standard in order to allow the judicial branch to start scrutinizing prosecutorial discretion.” “They could have got other political people easy as pie,” Serra said after court. “They chose not to, and this motion here, we wanted to find out really, why didn’t you? Serra said outside of court that he was not surprised by the judge’s decision but plans to file further motions for dismissal before the case goes to trial later this year.

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