Alicia Lo was hit with two blows last week.
First, her boyfriend, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, was sentenced to life in prison for ordering the murder of a rival and for running an organized crime outfit out of a fraternal Chinatown organization.
Then, Lo was served with a restraining order that, of all things, could impact Chow’s intellectual property.
After spending the past two years fighting for his life in court, Chow has now turned his attention to another legal battle, this time over his autobiography, Sun of the Underworld.
Lo, who was served with the restraining order after leaving a San Francisco federal courtroom last Thursday, says she is barred from talking about or publishing Chow’s nearly completed autobiography.
The book was among many pieces of evidence seized by the FBI when Chow was arrested in March 2014.
“Nobody’s allowed to talk about it or publish it or do anything with it,” Lo says. “I don’t think they want Raymond to be any more famous.”
The restraining order specifically bans Chow, Lo, or anyone else from publishing or profiting off intellectual property seized by the government, including the autobiography, until the feds recover $225,000 in seized assets and about $30,000 in restitution and fines.
That $225,000 figure was not pulled out of a hat. It’s based on the 10 percent profit Chow and his associates made when they laundered about $2 million for an undercover FBI agent.
The tug of war over the book — in its current form, the cover depicts a white-suited Chow at the funeral of the man whose death he was convicted of ordering — bubbled up in the courtroom during Chow’s sentencing.
Chow’s current lawyer, Matt Dirkes, says Lo has done nothing wrong.
“Mrs. Lo is trying to figure out how she can do this legitimately,” Dirkes told Judge Charles Breyer in court last week.
Prosecutor William Frentzen says Lo and Chow’s associates have been heard in jailhouse phone calls trying to evade the government by publishing the book in someone else’s name.
“I just think Mr. Chow and Mrs. Lo should not be profiting off it,” he said.
Lo says Chow can’t profit from the publishing of his book because of so-called “Son of Sam” laws — named for a New York State law passed in 1977 to prevent serial killer David Berkowitz from profiting off the rights to his story.
Such laws, however, do not apply to Chow because the restraining order doesn’t prevent free speech; rather, it demands payment if such speech is used for profit.
The restraining order effectively achieves the same goal, restricting anyone from making public, destroying, or selling “all intellectual property or contractual rights owned or possessed by defendant [Raymond] Kwok Cheung Chow” unless the government is paid first.
Lo says she isn’t trying to evade the government or help Chow make money.
“It’s not that I am trying to get away with anything,” Lo says, noting profits from the autobiography would go to her. “My goal is to make sure he gets his story told.”