Photo: Vicki Behringer, Special To The ChronicleU.S. Attorney William Frentzen, left, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, and attorney Matthew Dierkes are seen in Federal Court on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif., during Chow's sentencing hearing. Five of Chow’s associates pleaded guilty to crimes committed under the same syndicate Wednesday. lessU.S. Attorney William Frentzen, left, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, and attorney Matthew Dierkes are seen in Federal Court on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif., during Chow's sentencing hearing. Five ... morePhoto: Vicki Behringer, Special To The Chronicle
Five associates of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the infamous San Francisco crime boss sentenced to life in prison in August, pleaded guilty to reduced charges related to the money-laundering organized crime syndicate they helped run in Chinatown, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, three men — Gary Kwong Yiu Chen, Anthony John Lai, and Xiu Ying Ling “Elaine” Liang — pleaded guilty to money laundering charges.
Another man, Tong Zao Zhang, pleaded guilty to dealing in contraband cigarettes, and the fifth, Bryan Tilton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen goods in interstate commerce, prosecutors said.
Their boss, Chow, has held out his innocence for his part in orchestrating his former organization, the Ghee Kung Tong, as a complex racketeering enterprise. Chow also ordered the murder of its previous leader, Allen Leung, in 2006 to smooth his ascension to the top of the tong, a jury found in announcing his guilt.
Underneath Chow — who was the only member of the crime syndicate to contest his case in court — San Francisco residents Chen and Lai admitted in their plea agreements that they laundered more than $635, 000 from October to December 2013 that was used to disguise the cross-county flow of illicit drug money, prosecutors said.
In Brooklyn resident Zhang’s plea agreement, he admitted distributing contraband cigarettes on the black market without paying taxes that would have totaled almost $300, 000 prosecutors said.
Under San Francisco resident Tilton’s plea agreement, he said he conspired with Chow to purchase $30, 000 worth of purportedly stolen Hennessy XO alcohol, prosecutors said. But the salesman was an undercover FBI agent, one of the first threads that started unraveling Chow’s crime empire, prosecutors said.