|A federal court jury deliberated just three hours Friday before convicting two Chinese men of running a loan-sharking operation that preyed on Asian gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino. |
The 12-member jury ended the week-long trial before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton by convicting Xaio 'Steven' Chen of Flushing, N.Y., and Gong Chai Son of San Francisco on charges of conspiring to collect extortionate loans between July 1999 and December 2001.
Chen also was convicted on two counts and Sun on one count of using extortionate means to collect a loan. Sun was acquitted on the second charge.
Each of the charges carries a maximum 20-year prison term. The two are being held without bond pending their sentencing.
They also face probable deportation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Sklaire and Steve Reynolds used videotaped conversations, testimony from victims and an informant who infiltrated the operation to prosecute the case.
The ring approached gamblers at the Foxwoods casino and offered loans at 10 percent interest per every $1,000. The interest accrued every three to seven days.
Ring members would hang around the gambling tables and immediately collect on any winnings borrowers received.
FBI Special Agent Peter Hsieh said borrowers would have to turn over such documents as immigration service permits or driver's licenses as collateral.
The documents would not be returned until the loan was paid in full.