The Paul Phua World Cup betting case continues this week, with more reports emanating from the defense, complaining of illegal searches, lack of warrants, and failure to offer Miranda rights.
The legal team representing the alleged 14K Triad member, Paul Phua, have filed a motion to suppress the testimony he, and his son Darren, provided during a raid on a room he was using in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, last July.
Phua is one of eight people arrested by FBI agents, on charges of operating an illegal sports betting operation from Villa 8888, on the Caesars Palace property. The ring purportedly processed $300m in illegals sports bets during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
It’s the second time that Phua’s legal team have made a move to suppress evidence, after they argued that members of the FBI obtained it illegally, after deliberately sabotaging the Internet connection in Villa 8888, and then entering the room disguised as cable repair men.
This latest move, by the defense, centers on the alleged failure of the FBI agents to read both Phua and his son their Miranda rights, thus violating their constitutional rights. Fans of the Hill Street Blues will remember that it gives them ‘the right to remain silent’, and ‘the person must be clearly informed that he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning.’
The legal team has argued that Phua’s attorney was not allowed to meet the two men immediately after their arrest, and that Phua was not made aware that he could remain silent, or indeed stop the interview at any time.
Phua’s affidavit read: ”The first agent I saw pointed a machine gun at me and shouted, ‘Put your f*ing hands up’. Everyone in the villa was handcuffed, herded into the dining room, and told to get on our knees and face the wall.”
The reports go on to state that Phua was left in handcuffs during a three-hour interrogation, and two hours thereafter. Statements made by the FBI agents, present during the raid, state that Phua ‘was advised that agents were executing a search warrant, he was not under arrest, the interview was voluntary, he could refuse to answer questions, and he could stop the interview at any time.”
“At no point did I feel that I was free to stop answering the agents’ questions and terminate the interview, nor did I ever feel that I was free to leave,” Phua wrote.
The importance of the suppression of the alleged non-Mirandized statements, is because Phua allegedly told the FBI that he had invested approx. $200m in IBC Bet, an online betting outfit based in the Philippines, that people believe to be one of the largest in the world.
His son, Darren, is also reported to have said that he knew his father owned the site. Phua latest retracted his $200m comment and replaced it with the slightly lower estimate of $2m.
Phua told the agents that he had bet between $200m & $300m since the World Cup had started, but stopped all forms of betting once he arrived in America.
Philipp Gruissem and Igor Kurganov Mentioned
The names of the German High Stakes duo Philipp Gruissem, and Igor Kurganov, were also mentioned in the legal proceedings, after it transpired that Richard Yong (one of the eight arrested, and another suspected to be a member of the 14K Triad group) wired their $1m buy-ins to Caesars. The group who were arrested in Villa 8888 also bought in a third member of the BIG ONE for ONE-DROP field, Stanley Choi.
Yong, Phua, and Chun Lei Zhou aka ‘samrostan’ were all due to take part in the $1m buy-in event, but allegedly bailed out over a disagreement with the One Drop founder, Guy Laliberte.
When it comes to lines of credit Caesars Entertainment don’t mess about.
According to court papers, the casino giants handed out over $93m in lines of credit to the posse staying in Villa’s 8888, 8881 and 8882; including $30m handed to Yong, and $16m handed to Phua. Yong handled the front money with close to $5m being wired directly to Caesars and another $4m supplied via certified checks from the Bank of Macau.
The court documents also revealed the amount of hardware that was present in Villa 8888.
The room, registered to defendant Hui Tang, contained eight DSL lines each connected to a unique work station with access to cable TV, a VOIP (Voice-Over Internet Protocol) phone, and three computers with monitors. A Utah IT firm was paid $22,000 to fit out the room.
I suspect that the argument that the group were operating a online poker grinding station may not carry much weight.
The case continues.