SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A federal grand jury in San Francisco has charged 15 individuals with committing racketeering, extortionate extension of credit, and narcotics offenses at and through two Bay Area casino card clubs, Artichoke Joe’s Casino and Oaks Card Club (the casinos), United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
The indictment, which was unsealed this morning in redacted form, charges that between February 2008 and the present, Cuong Mach Binh Tieu, Lap The Chung, Bob Yuen, Ding Lin, Skyler Chang, Chea Bou, May Chung, and Hung Tieu agreed to conduct and conducted the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO). The indictment alleges that these individuals associated in fact at the casinos to form an enterprise and that they used the casinos’ facilities and assets to extend and collect extortionate credit and distribute illegal drugs. The maximum punishment for the RICO crimes charged in counts 1 and 2 of the indictment is 20 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Additionally, Cuong Mach Binh Tieu, Lap The Chung, Ding Lin, Skyler Chang, and Chea Bou are charged with federal narcotics offenses with maximum prison terms ranging from 20 years to life with a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years, maximum fines ranging from $1 million to $4 million, and supervised release terms of up to life. The indictment alleges that these narcotic offenses occurred either at the casinos or through the use of the casinos’ facilities.
Lap The Chung, Bob Yuen, Ding Lin, May Chung, and Hung Tieu are also charged with federal extortionate extension of credit offenses with maximum punishment of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Extortionate credit is otherwise known as loansharking, and the indictment alleges that such loansharking occurred at the casinos on numerous occasions over the past two years.
In addition to the offenses described above, the indictment charges the following defendants with crimes of extending extortionate credit with other members of the enterprise: Thanh The Chu, Kwai Ping Wong, John Hinyu Chew, and Bao Tran. Each of these defendants is an employee of either Oaks Card Club or Artichoke Joe’s Casino. Finally, two individuals, Bao Hung Phung and Billy Ket Chau, are charged with a single count each of extending extortionate credit.
The indictment is the result of an approximately two-year investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who worked together with the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control (Cal. DOJ) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Yesterday, the FBI and DEA, working with Cal. DOJ, IRS, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, United States Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Oakland Police Department, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, Alameda Police Department, Emeryville Police Department, San Bruno Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Berkeley Police Department, and San Jose Police Department arrested 14 of the defendants charged in the indictment. They also simultaneously executed more than twenty search warrants throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere. During the course of executing the search warrants, agents seized several hundred thousand dollars in cash and thousands of dollars worth of casino gambling chips, jewelry, and valuables, several pounds of narcotics, and numerous firearms.
The investigation was conducted and funded in part by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.
Please note: An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, the defendants mentioned above must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.