SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A former lieutenant of Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow pleaded not guilty in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday to the murder in aid of racketeering of Chow’s predecessor as chief of the organization.
Wen Bing Lei, also known as Raymond Lei, 50, of Las Vegas, is being held without bail. At today’s arraignment, U.S. Magistrate Sallie Kim ordered him to return to a federal judge’s courtroom on Feb. 28 for the setting of future dates.
Lei was indicted last week on the charge of participating in the murder of Chee Kung Tong civic association leader Allen Leung, who was gunned down by a masked shooter in his Chinatown business office on Feb. 27, 2006. Chow succeeded Leung as dragonhead or chief of the tong.
Chow was convicted of the same crime of murder in aid of racketeering last year and is now serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Chow was also convicted of racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to murder another rival, money laundering and conspiring to transport stolen goods. Prosecutors alleged that a criminal faction of the tong operated as a racketeering enterprise.
Lei would face the same mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of the racketeering murder.
Chow and Lei were not accused of pulling the trigger against Leung, but rather with being responsible for the murder by causing and aiding the crime.
Several witnesses at Chow’s trial alleged that Lei played a role in finding a shooter and ordering the murder.
Outside of court today, defense attorney Mark Vermeulen said, “These are very old charges. The evidence is very slim.”
The indictment filed Thursday against Lei replaced a 2015 criminal complaint that accused him of threatening or conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering. That charge would have carried a sentence of up to 10 years upon conviction.
Vermeulen said he believed the heavier charge of actual murder resulted from the testimony of the former Chow associates who agreed to become prosecution witnesses in Chow’s trial in late 2015.
Vermeulen said Lei is not currently seeking release on bail, but is reserving the right to request bail at a later date.