FBI-Caesars search case to narrow to father, son

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2014 5:18 PM
FBI-Caesars search case to narrow to father, son

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Five defendants are poised to take plea deals in a federal illegal Internet gambling case in Nevada that stemmed from a disputed FBI raid last summer at high-roller suites in Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, defense attorneys said Friday.

Hearings to change pleas have been scheduled next Tuesday and Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, court records show.

The group plea deal, and dropped charges against a sixth defendant, would leave Wei Seng "Paul" Phua, 50, and his son, Darren Wai Kit Phua, 23, to face trial on charges including operating an illegal gambling business during the World Cup soccer tournament.

Defense attorney David Chesnoff said the Phuas are prepared to fight, and they intend to show that federal agents violated their rights by enlisting hotel employees to obtain a crucial search warrant before arresting eight people on July 13 in three exclusive Caesars villas.

"Our clients have always maintained their innocence and also feel it is important to fight the unconstitutional acts of law enforcement, for their sake and for the public's sake," Chesnoff said Friday.

Lawyers for the Phuas filed documents this week denying U.S. prosecutors' assertions that Paul Phua is a member or leader of the Chinese organized crime group called the 14K Triad.

They are scheduled to ask a judge on Dec. 15 to ban the government from using against their clients' items and statements collected during the Caesars raid.

Next week, attorney Chris Rasmussen said his client, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and three other defendants plan to plead guilty to misdemeanor accessory to gambling charges, and one defendant, Hui Tang, 44, planned to plead guilty to a charge of felony transmission of wagering information.

Each was expected to be sentenced immediately to probation and be allowed to leave the U.S. to return to homes in Malaysia, Hong Kong and China with an agreement not to return to the U.S. for five years, Rasmussen said.

The defendants would not be required to testify against the Phuas.

Charges would be dropped against a sixth defendant, Wai Kin Yong, Rasmussen said.

Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, declined to comment.

Tang's lawyer, Richard Wright, and Yong's lawyer, Michael Pancer, also declined to speak about the plea agreements ahead of their clients' scheduled appearances before U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon.

Attorneys representing Yan Zhang, Herman Chun Sang Yeung and Seng Chin Yong didn't immediately respond Friday to messages.

Federal prosecutors allege that Wei Seng Phua, from Malaysia, was arrested in June in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau and accused of running an illegal sports-gambling business before arriving in Las Vegas.

The plea agreement was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.