SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors planning to file a murder charge against a key defendant in a money laundering and racketeering probe centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown lost a bid Thursday to push back his trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow will go on trial Nov. 2 as scheduled, saying Chow’s right to a speedy trial would be “severely impacted” if the case were delayed.
The investigation of Chow also led to the arrest and conviction of a California state senator.
Prosecutors had asked for a delay in Chow’s trial to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether to seek the death penalty against him in connection with the 2006 murder of Allen Leung, who preceded Chow as the leader of the Chinese fraternal group Ghee Kung Tong. Prosecutors have said one of Chow’s co-defendants will testify that Chow was angry with Leung over money and solicited his murder.
The FBI alleges Ghee Kung Tong was a racketeering enterprise, and that undercover agents laundered $2.6 million in cash from illegal bookmaking through the organization. The investigation of the group also led to the arrest of California state Sen. Leland Yee, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in July.
A murder charge would mark a dramatic escalation in the criminal case against Chow, who is currently facing money laundering and racketeering charges to which he has pleaded not guilty. Breyer said that if a grand jury indicts Chow on a capital murder charge, he will exclude it from Chow’s upcoming trial.
Chow’s attorney, Curtis Briggs, said his client had nothing to do with Leung’s death, calling the allegation “ridiculous.”
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