Son Darren to enter a guilty plea on a single misdemeanour charge
The controversial illegal gambling federal prosecution of international poker pro Wei Seng Paul Phua and his 23-year-old son Darren took a new turn Thursday with the disclosure that a homesick Darren has buckled under the pressure and agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of transmission of wagering information in order to leave the United States and return home.
He will also be forced to accept forfeiture of around $125,000, according to some reports.
His decision leaves his father standing alone after five other associates took guilty pleas last year and then left the country (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The Phua case has attracted global interest, mainly due to the questionable tactics used by FBI agents in his arrest. InfoPowa readers will recall that the Phua party hired luxury accommodation at Las Vegas casino resort Caesars Palace during the World Cup football last year, ordering in sophisticated communications and computer equipment.
Suspicious hotel staff reported the matter to the authorities and the FBI, suspecting an illegal gambling operation, set up an enquiry.
To gain access to the Phua apartments in order to gather evidence to support a full search warrant, federal agents had the internet feed cut off and then, posing as repairmen and with covert cameras running, gained entry to the accommodation and the equipment being used.
Having then subsequently obtained a search warrant, a shutdown raid took place and the Phuas, along with their associates, were arrested and restricted from leaving the USA.
A judicial enquiry by Judge Peggy Leen on the propriety of the FBI's actions found that the search warrants were fatally flawed as a result of the methods used to obtain them, and recommended that much of the evidence gathered should not be accepted.
Federal prosecutors have responded to this finding by launching an appeal, claiming the judge's ruling jeopardises their case against Phua.
Phua is set to appear for trial on April 13, and the hearings are sure to trigger another avalanche of publicity, not all of it good for the US enforcement agencies.
UPDATE: Darren Wai Kit Phua subsequently pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the transmission of wagering information, and agreed to forfeit US$125,000 seized during the raid and pay a $100,000 fine, as well as surrender his right to any of the electronics seized. He is barred from entering the USA for the next five years.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa