3 from China enter pleas in Vegas FBI-Caesars gambling case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2014 8:50 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A woman and two men from China pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Las Vegas to reduced charges in what prosecutors say amounted to a $13 million illegal Internet gambling operation broken up by an FBI raid at high-roller suites at Caesars Palace.

Yan Zhang, 41, and the two men, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon to misdemeanor accessory after the fact charges, admitting that they knew illegal wagers were being transmitted.

The trio of plea deals hinge on two more defendants pleading guilty Wednesday: Seng Chen Yong, 56, to a misdemeanor accessory charge and Hui Tang, 44, to felony illegal transmission of wagering information.

A sixth co-defendant, Wai Kin Yong, 23, the son of Sen Chen Yong, is scheduled to have charges dismissed.

That would leave Wei Seng "Paul" Phua and his son, Darren Wai Kit Phua, to face felony charges including operating an illegal gambling business and unlawful transmission of wagering information charges that each carry a possible penalty of up to seven years in prison.

Defense attorneys for the Phuas are fighting their charges, alleging the FBI improperly enlisted Caesars Palace officials to shut off Internet service so that FBI agents wearing lapel cameras could enter and collect enough information to obtain a crucial search warrant.

The warrant led to the arrest of the eight people last July in three high-roller suites outfitted with computers and electronic equipment.

Wei Seng Phua had been arrested in June on charges of running an illegal sports gambling business in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

He flew a few days later to Las Vegas, where federal authorities impounded his private jet pending resolution of the U.S. case.

Zhang, Fan and Yeung were each fined a little more than $100,000, agreed to forfeit $150,000, were granted five years' unsupervised probation and ordered to leave the U.S. in the next few days.

Sen Chen Yong and Tang are expected to face similar sentences.