Son, missing home, pleads guilty in World Cup betting case

AP News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2015 6:32 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The son of a wealthy Malaysian businessman accused of running an illegal sports betting ring together during the World Cup has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in order to return home.

Darren Wai Kit Phua, 23, was arrested in July with his father and several others after federal agents raided a Caesars Palace villa where they were staying and seized numerous computers, cellphones and cash.

Authorities have said they believe the operation handled $13 million in bets before the raid.

Defense attorneys have criticized the lengths federal agents went to in order to gather evidence by posing as computer repair technicians at the hotel to gain entry to the hotel room. A U.S. magistrate judge ruled last month that evidence should be thrown out as a result of the deception.

Phua had been charged with two felony counts of operating an illegal gambling business and transmission of wagering information.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of being accessory after the fact to transmission of wagering information.

As part of the plea, Phua has agreed to forfeit $125,000 seized during the raid and pay a $100,000 fine, as well as surrender his right to any of the electronics seized.

Phua also won't be able to re-enter the United States for five years and will be on unsupervised probation during that time.

"After spending nine months in isolation away from family and friends, Darren is ready to go home," said defense attorney Richard Shonfeld in a statement.

A trial date for his father Wei Seng "Paul" Phua, 50, is set for April 13.

A defense attorney for Paul Phua said Darren Phua's plea deal would have no bearing on his father's case.

"Paul is innocent of all charges and remains committed to clearing his good name," said attorney David Chesnoff in a statement.