The San Francisco racketeering defendant and ex-con Raymond Chow, aka “Shrimp Boy,” has been dishing his local political classes. 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 last week that federal authorities are giving major 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 Assemblyman 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.
The court brief is a San Francisco treat, a colorful feast of felonious finger-pointing, a dim sum of deliciously dastardly dealing.
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.
During her campaign last year, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert vowed to make a priority of public corruption. Maybe Sacramento is as pure as mountain water, but if San Francisco is any indication, there’s probably some low-hanging fruit out there. Someone should take a bite.