Interesting developments in the illegal sports betting allegations against Paul Phua and others
The row over the questionable tactics used by FBI agents to gain entry to the luxury accommodations at Caesars Palace used by high stakes poker player Paul Phua and associates (see previous InfoPowa reports) took an interesting turn in a Las Vegas courtroom this week.
It has been alleged that FBI agents intent on investigating illegal World Cup football sports betting allegedly taking place in the Phua suites arranged for Internet access to be cut off, and then sent in agents posing as repairmen and equipped with lapel cameras to obtain evidence.
The court appearances this week indicate that Caesars has been entangled in the issue, with allegations that the company was not the innocent bystander as was originally portrayed.
Phua defence lawyers told Nevada federal judge Peggy Leen that the FBI improperly enlisted Caesars Palace officials to obtain a search warrant before arresting Phua and associates at the Las Vegas Strip resort.
The defence had issued a subpoena requiring the surrender of Caesars email and business records said to show that the FBI violated the defendants' Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, whilst Caesars legal representatives sought an order to quash the subpoena.
The Associated Press news agency reports that after hearing argument for 40 minutes Judge Leen declined to quash the subpoena, where after the two sides met and hammered out an agreement.
Vincent Savarese, representing Caesars, said they agreed on a "narrowed scope" of disclosures, whilst David Chesnoff, attorney for lead defendant Wei Seng Phua, said that by receiving the documents, "…we'll be able to pursue the truth."
AP reports that Phua defence attorney Thomas Goldstein told the judge that the defence believes that emails will show Caesars officials were "centrally involved" with federal investigators and prosecutors trying to find a way to obtain enough probable cause to get a search warrant against Wei Seng Phua.
"It's not the case that Caesars is innocently involved and just a third party," Goldstein said. "We need records that show their participation and what happened in the searches … (and) if staff was directly involved in the process."
Monica Pinciak, a lawyer representing Caesars, emphasised that the company had nothing to hide, and had already turned over business records relating to money transfers. She claimed that the request for emails was nothing more than a "fishing expedition" and could be used to harm her client.
"They [the Phua defence team] want anything and everything," Pinciak protested, "to fish for unknown evidence to use in this case or their threatened civil suit against Caesars."
Meanwhile federal prosecutors in the Phua case deny the tactics used to get a warrant were improper, but said the government would only comment about specific allegations in court.
A Department of Justice representative sat in on the Caesars vs. Phua defence team arguments but did not participate in the proceedings.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa