Federal drug agents, trying to cover up inept monitoring of a drug buy that ended with the fatal shooting of two undercover agents, later lied to the FBI about the incident, making it appear that Michael Su Chia was a conspirator in the crime, Chia’s lawyer told a jury Monday in Pasadena.
The agents responsible for the surveillance had failed to spot Chia at a Monterey Park restaurant where negotiations for the drug deal took place, and, realizing that, sought to “make things right,” said defense attorney Brian O’Neill.
The agents lied, O’Neill said, when they reported that they repeatedly saw Chia in the restaurant parking lot, acting as if he were a lookout for the drug dealers.
The drug agents had testified during the four-week trial that they submitted supplements to their first reports more than two weeks after the shootings because, they said, FBI agents had omitted parts of their original statements.
O’Neill’s remarks Monday were made during closing arguments of Chia’s trial in Superior Court. Chia is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the slayings of Special Agents Paul Seema and George Montoya of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and the wounding of Special Agent Jose Martinez.
The agents, who were posing as drug dealers, were shot as they sat in their car after three men robbed them of $80,000 in government money. The prosecution has contended that Chia took part in the planning and preparation for the robbery and by law is responsible for its results.
O’Neill, however, told the jury that Chia, 21, of Alhambra, had gone to Tiny Naylor’s restaurant on South Atlantic Boulevard just before the shootings only to stop a friend, 18-year-old William Wang of Hacienda Heights, from going through with the robbery.
Wang was shot eight times during a shoot-out in San Marino with members of the surveillance team. He survived and has been charged with being one of two triggermen in the case. A second triggerman and an accomplice were killed in the shoot-out.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Joe Martinez, in his closing argument, reminded the jury that that police found three ski masks, three sets of handcuffs, bullets and a bullet clip in Chia’s car when he was arrested in Monterey Park about an hour after the shootings.
Agents on the surveillance team had testified, Martinez noted, that they had seen Chia on the night of Feb. 4 in a car with Wang, and that Wang later delivered a gun similar to the one used in the shootings of the agents to Frank Kow, of Monterey Park. Kow was the agents’ contact for the drug deal.