An undercover FBI agent spent thousands building a case against Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow - but Chow's lawyers say his defense against the government's charges won't cost him a cent.
An FBI affidavit depicts an agent repeatedly paying Chow money that, according to the government, bought Chow's blessing for the agent to work with Shrimp Boy's associates to launder money and move stolen liquor and cigarettes.
Now Chow's legal team - which includes J. Tony Serra, a legendary lawyer who has represented controversial figures like Black Panthers founder Huey Newton - says they will represent Chow for free.
During a Thursday press conference, Serra underscored that fact as a sign of Chow's innocence. Couldn't a powerful crime figure, Serra asked, afford a lawyer?
"We serve Raymond because we believe in his innocence. This is a pro bono cause for us," Serra said. "If he was a real gangster, he would have real money. He does not."
The U.S. District Court in San Francisco did not respond to requests for confirmation that Serra and his team are representing Chow in lieu of a court-appointed defender.
A similar situation applies to Keith Jackson, an associate of suspended Sen. Leland Yee who stands accused of conspiring to sell drugs and guns and setting up a paid hit. The court appointed prominent trial lawyer James Brosnahan to handle Jackson's defense.
PHOTO: A picture of Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow sits next to quotes from an FBI affidavit that Chow's lawyers said establish his innocence during a press conference in San Francisco, Calif. on April 11, 2014.