A major ruling has occurred in online bookie Paul Phua Wei Seng’s case of illegal gambling, with a judge handing down a decision in the defendants favor. On Friday, United States District Judge Andrew Gordon decided to toss evidence obtained by FBI agents in the case, helping the Phua defense.
Gordon ruled that the evidence obtained by an FBI ruse would not be admissible in court. Gordon determined that the FBI was in violation of Phua’s right to privacy by tricking the defendant. Phua along with seven additional defendants were taken into custody in July of 2014 after a raid by the FBI on three villas located in Las Vegas at the Caesars Palace.
The occupants of the villas were accused of taking part in illegal betting online with matches of the the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The FBI worked with the staff of Caesars to turn off the internet to the villas. When this took place, Phua and his associates contacted Caesars to try and get the internet turned back on. The FBI then sent agents who acted as if they were Caesar’s IT technical support to enter Phua’s private rooms. The agents had body cameras hidden from view and used the recorded footage to get warrants to search the premises.
Gordon ruled that to allow the prosecutors to use the evidence obtained would ‘effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residences and hotel rooms in America’.
The ruling by Gordon coincides with a ruling in February by US District Judge, Peggy Leen. Leen called the evidence obtained by the FBI ‘fatefully flawed’ in regard to the ‘false and misleading statements’ by the FBI agents to obtain the warrants for the property. The prosecutors appealed the ruling which lead to the decision this past Friday, effectively quashing the government’s case against Phua.
In January the Minister of Justice in Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, stated in a letter to Mark Guiliano, the assistant director of the FBI, that Paul Phua Wei Seng was not a member of the famed 14K Triad, a Chinese organized crime gang operating throughout Chinese communities in Asia. He also seemed to lay waste to the claim that a 2008 Royal Malaysia Police report on Phua, claiming otherwise was erroneous. Zahid Hamidi is regarded by some as a front runner to become the next Prime Minister of Malaysia. Zahid Hamidi also mentioned that Phua had “on numerous occasions, assisted the government of Malaysia on projects affecting our national security.”
All others in the case have admitted guilt or otherwise settled their cases with the Department of Justice.
Caesars Entertainment Corp (CZR.O), embroiled in bankruptcy and facing an investigation by noted Watergate prosecutor, Richard Davis for their real estate spin-offs, is reportedly soon to announce a settlement with the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in regard to claims of money laundering first announced in October 2013. Most analysts expect a pennies on the dollar sanction much like Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC’s tentative $10 million deal that would cost the bankrupt operator less than $50,000.