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Reputed Asian Gang Chief Takes Fifth

<i> From a Times Staff Writer</i>

Peter Chong, reputed leader of the Wo Hop To criminal “triad” in San Francisco, repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination Tuesday to avoid answering questions posed by a Senate subcommittee investigating burgeoning Asian organized crime in California.

Chong, under questioning by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.), ranking minority member of the Senate Government Operations permanent investigations subcommittee, acknowledged only that he is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China and that he is a permanent resident alien living in San Francisco.

Flanked by his lawyers from Washington and San Francisco, Chong declined to state whether he is the head of the secretive Wo Hop To or whether he was involved in the murder last April of Danny Wong, reputed leader of the rival Wah Ching gang in San Francisco.

Chong’s Washington lawyer, Robert Luskin, denounced the subcommittee for “unethical and inappropriate behavior,” citing an American Bar Assn. policy against requiring a witness to publicly invoke the Fifth Amendment right if the witness already has given written notice of his plan to invoke such protection, which Chong did.

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