Henry K. Lee
Published 4:15 pm, Saturday, April 5, 2014

Reputed San Francisco Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and his associates were making money in illegal ways and needed to hide it from federal authorities, so they funneled it into fake business accounts, according to the FBI – the classic definition of money laundering.

Money-laundering charges are at the center of the criminal case filed by federal prosecutors last month against Chow, 54, and 28 other defendants, including now-suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and his fundraiser, former San Francisco school board President Keith Jackson.

In some cases, money laundering is easier to prove than the underlying crime that gives rise to it, said Beth Simmons, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University. “Money laundering might be sort of another angle to try to get at the consequences of illegal activity,” she said.

Yee, 65, and Jackson, 49, have each been charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and defrauding citizens of honest services. Neither has been charged with money laundering, although Jackson – in a conversation with an undercover agent – quoted Yee as saying there would be an “opportunity to launder the proceeds from the sales of future weapons,” according to an FBI affidavit.
Gone straight?

Chow, meanwhile, portrayed himself as a reformed gangster who was on the straight and narrow, the affidavit said.

In a wiretapped conversation, Chow told associates “he stays out of the transactions” and that if one of his acquaintances was caught doing something illegal, “it would be bad for all of them,” the affidavit said.

Chow said his defense to any criminal accusation would be that “he doesn’t really know what the rest of them were doing,” the affidavit said.

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