The San Francisco racketeering defendant and ex-con Raymond Chow, aka “Shrimp Boy,” has been singing. According to Chow, the disgraced former Sen. Leland Yee, who pleaded guilty last month to taking payoffs for political favors, is far from the only public sector sinner in the City by the Bay.
Charged with hijacking a community group for criminal gain, Chow claimed recently that federal authorities are giving major San Francisco City Hall figures a pass while selectively prosecuting the crustacean and his cronies.
Mayor Ed Lee, who was among the Bay Area names in a sensational court filing, compared Chow and his lawyers to “orangutans” and denied allegations that he, like Yee, took bribes and flouted campaign laws.
But the brief is a San Francisco treat in itself, a colorful feast of felonious finger-pointing, a dim sum cart brimming with deliciously dastardly dealing.
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On one page, Chow’s attorneys claim that a federal agent posing as a pot grower got a Muni staffer to promise him machine guns over a meal at the swank Waterbar on the Embarcadero, and then deliver him a gun in a box of See’s candy.
On another, they report that in 2009, mild-mannered San Francisco Assembly Member David Chiu wore a wire to a restaurant after Shrimp Boy became angry with the then-county supervisor for defunding a Chinatown food event he was running and put an ad in the Chinese press ominously comparing Chiu to a “corpse eating a vegetable dinner.”
When people say you can’t get a bad meal in San Francisco, they apparently don’t know the half of it.
Chow claims the undercover sting that netted Yee, himself and many others was an FBI vendetta and a waste of public money. But it also underscores what a deterrent it can be when authorities crack down on betrayals of the public trust.
Yee and Sen. Ron Calderon, the Montebello Democrat awaiting trial on bribery and money-laundering charges, were arrested in federal operations. Sen. Rod Wright, nailed for living outside his district, was targeted by a Los Angeles County grand jury.
Keeping a promise made during her election campaign last year, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp has assembled a Public Integrity Unit that will investigate allegations of public corruption.
Given what has been uncovered elsewhere around the state of late, it will be interesting to see the types of cases her investigators and attorneys bring to court — and the local people who have to face the music for their alleged criminal wrongdoing.