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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Friday, January 6, 2017

Five More Defendants Plead Guilty To Crimes Charged In Shrimp Boy Indictment

SAN FRANCISCO- Gary Kwong Yiu Chen, Anthony John Lai, and Xiu Ying Ling “Elaine” Liang pleaded guilty to money laundering charges; Tong Zao Zhang pleaded guilty to dealing in contraband cigarettes; and Bryan Tilton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen goods in interstate commerce announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.   The five plea agreements, accepted Wednesday by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge, resulted from charges leveled against the defendants in the same original indictment that eventually led to the trial and conviction of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.   

According to their plea agreements, Chen and Lai, both of San Francisco, admitted that from October through December of 2013, they facilitated eight separate financial transactions for the purpose of disguising the proceeds of illegal drug sales.  The defendants admitted they engaged in drug trafficking from which the profits were obtained and that the purpose of the financial transactions was to promote ongoing criminal activity.  The defendants also acknowledged that part of their objective was to transport profits from the East Coast to the West Coast and to conceal and disguise the funds from law enforcement.  Chen and Lai each acknowledged that the amount of money involved in the transactions was over $635,000.  They both pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i).  Elaine Liang pleaded guilty, without a written agreement, to a single count of money laundering related to arranging the transactions that were carried out by Chen and Lai.  

In addition, Zhang, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty to dealing in contraband cigarettes.  According to his plea agreement, Zhang admitted that in July of 2013, he received more than 10,000 Marlboro cigarettes that he knew were contraband.  He transported the cigarettes, none of which bore evidence of the payment of applicable New York state taxes, and delivered them to another location for resale and distribution as contraband cigarettes.  Zhang acknowledged the amount of taxes avoided because of the transaction was approximately $292,500.  Zhang was charged in a Superseding Information filed January 3, 2017, with one count of dealing in contraband cigarettes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2342(a) and 2344.  Pursuant to Wednesday’s plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Tilton, of San Francisco, admitted that between December of 2011 and March of 2013, he agreed with others including Chow and George Nieh, to purchase stolen Hennessy XO cognac alcohol.  On March 9, 2012, Tilton met in San Francisco with Nieh and others, including an undercover FBI agent, for the purpose of making arrangements for the purchase of purportedly stolen Hennessey XO. Tilton provided the undercover agent with a purple bag containing $30,000 in cash, tasted a sample of the liquor to confirm that it was not counterfeit, and arranged for the liquor to be unloaded from the undercover agent’s van.  Tilton admitted he later delivered an envelope containing $5,000 to Chow in exchange for Chow’s involvement in arranging the purchase of the purportedly stolen liquor.  Tilton pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. 

Chen, Lai, Liang, Zhang, and Tilton all were named in an indictment filed April 3, 2014.  The indictment was amended several times and eventually led to the trial and January 8, 2016, conviction of Raymond Chow, 55, of San Francisco, for racketeering, murder, money laundering, and conspiracy.  Among the crimes with which Chow was charged and convicted were arranging the murder of Allen Leung and conspiring with others to murder Jim Tat Kong. The jury found Chow guilty of every one of the 162 charges leveled against him.

The maximum statutory sentence for money laundering is 20 years in prison and $250,000 or twice the value of the property laundered, whichever is greater.  The maximum statutory sentence for dealing in contraband cigarettes is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The maximum statutory sentence for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 is five years in prison and $250,000.  In each case, additional terms of supervised release, restitution, and forfeiture may apply.  However, any sentence would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  Judge Breyer is scheduled to sentence the defendants on the following dates: Zhang—April 12, 2017; Chen, Lai, and Liang—May 10, 2017; Tilton—June 7, 2017. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Frentzen, Susan Badger, S. Waqar Hasib, and David Countryman prosecuted the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon, Kurk Kosek, Ana Guerra, Marina Ponomarchuk, Victoria Etterer, Lance Libatique, and Bridget Kilkenny.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Marshal Service, San Francisco Police Department Gang Task Force; Oakland Police Department; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; New York Police Department; Mercer County New Jersey Sheriff's Office; and the San Francisco and Alameda County Sheriff’s Departments.

Drug Trafficking
Financial Fraud
Violent Crime
Updated January 27, 2017