SAN FRANCISCO » Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a central figure in a sweeping San Francisco organized crime and public corruption case, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to money laundering and other charges related to the investigation.
Defense attorney Greg Bentley entered the plea for Chow, who remains in custody and appeared in court in jail clothing. Prosecutors say he is the leader of a notorious gang based in Chinatown.
Chow has been charged with eight counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to sell stolen liquor, and one count of trafficking in illegal cigarettes
Bentley says Chow is an innocent community organizer wrongly caught up in a politically charged investigation that also led to charges last month against state Sen. Leland Yee.
Yee is accused of trading political influence for campaign contributions and attempting to connect an undercover FBI agent with an arms dealer in exchange for cash. Yee has pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, a nonprofit news organization posted two video clips of Yee discussing campaign finance and open government.
In the Dec, 2 interview with the Voice of Orange County, Yee said lawmakers give in to temptation because of a feeling of entitlement.
Yee was running for California secretary of state at the time but dropped out of that race after his March 26 arrest.
Voice managing editor David Washburn said the news organization didn’t believe the 40-minute interview to be newsworthy until after Yee’s arrest.
It then took some discussion and time to edit the interview into two short clips of a little more than one minute each, he said.
Yee also decried the influence money plays in politics and called for public financing of campaigns.
"We’ve got to bite the bullet and take money out of it," Yee said. "Because money just simply corrupts, money just simply corrupts."
Yee’s attorney James Lassart didn’t return a phone call on Tuesday seeking comment on the video.
Yee remains free on $500,000 bond and no trial date has been set. He has been suspended from the state Senate, though he still collects his government paycheck.