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By Mike Carter, The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Wai-Chiu “Tony” Ng, who 31 years ago participated in the worst mass killing in Seattle history, has been deported to Hong Kong following his parole from prison, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Ng, 58, served 28 years for his role in the 1983 murders of 13 people at the Wah Mee Social Club in Seattle’s International District.

Ng was released into the custody of agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who escorted him on a commercial flight that left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday morning and arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday, according to ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz.

Tony Ng, Kwan Fai “Willie” Mak and Benjamin Ng (no relation) entered the back-alley gambling club in the early-morning hours of Feb. 19, 1983, hogtied the 14 patrons and workers, and then shot them all in the head. One man survived.

Tony Ng fled to Canada, and Mak and Benjamin Ng were convicted of the killings that same year. Benjamin Ng was sentenced to life without parole and Mak was sentenced to death. Mak’s sentence has since been overturned, and he is serving life without parole.

Tony Ng was arrested in Canada and extradited. At trial, he claimed Mak had threatened his family unless he participated in the robbery. Tony Ng has maintained that, while he had a gun, he never shot anyone.

He was convicted of 13 counts of first-degree robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and one count of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 30 years to life.

Tony Ng was rejected for parole five times before the Sentencing Review Board last year granted his release after months of deliberations. Ng, who came to the U.S. in 1970 looking for a job, agreed to deportation upon release.

Ng was considered a model prisoner and taught drafting to other inmates in the prison industries program. In his spare time, Ng folded delicate origami animals, which were sold to help fund a youth program, according to parole documents.

In a 2009 interview with Northwest Asian Weekly, Ng said he was sorry for what he had done.

“I always ask myself why. Why wasn’t I strong enough to say no?” he was quoted as saying. “Why did I have to create such a bad name for my family? They are good people.”

Prosecutors and relatives and friends of the victims opposed his release.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has said Ng has “caught some breaks in his favor that he did not deserve” — particularly when it came to how his sentence was determined under the law at the time and through a series of adjustments to his sentence over the years by the Independent Sentencing Review Board.

Satterberg had urged the review board to consider that had Tony Ng been sentenced under modern determinate-sentencing laws, he would have faced 70 years in prison on the firearm enhancements alone.

In the end, however, Satterberg said, the trial jury’s decision not to convict him of the killings “set in motion the possibility of his eventual release.”

Photo: Maxime via Flickr

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