Five members of the San Francisco Tong organization led by convicted crime boss Raymond Chow pleaded guilty to reduced charges yesterday. Gary Kwong Yiu Chen, Anthony John Lai, and Xiu Ying Ling 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.
Their sentencing is scheduled for April.
All were caught up in the undercover sting operation by the FBI aimed at their leader, Raymond Chow, a notorious and high profile crime boss with a criminal record dating back decades. You can read an extensive profile of Chow here. While Chow opted to take his case to trial resulting in a guilty verdict – though he continues to claim his innocence - and subsequent life prison sentence, his henchmen plea bargained instead.
Bryan Tilton gave the FBI an in when he conspired with Chow to purchase $30,000 worth of purportedly stolen Hennessy XO alcohol from a salesman, who, in reality, was an undercover FBI agent. Tilton admitted to this crime as part of his plea deal.
Chen and Lai admitted laundering over $635,000 from October to December 2013 that was used to disguise the cross-county flow of illicit drug money. Zhang admitted distributing contraband cigarettes on the black market without paying taxes that would have totaled almost $300,000 according to prosecutors.
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