Scales

Caesars Palace Bookmaking Bust: Wai Kin Yong Seeks Charge Dismissal

More developments from the major raid at semi-private villas at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where an alleged illicit Asian sportsbetting ring, operating in secret from the villas after being booted from a similar arrangement in Macau, faces charges in connection with the operation of an illegal gambling enterprise.

scales-justiceOne of the eight people charged by federal authorities following the July 9th raid, Wai Kin Yong, has already filed for a dismissal of all charges via his attorney, Michael N. Pancer.  Yong, 22, is the son of Seng Chen “Richard” Yong, a multi-millionaire junketeer who is one of the primary names in the case, behind only Paul Phua (the alleged leader of the illicit sportsbetting operation), and Phua’s son Darren.

As with the Phuas and like his father, Richard, Wai Kin Yong has participated in the ultra high-stakes cash games held at Macau casinos over the past few years, games which have attracted the world’s richest and most famous poker players but whose future is now in doubt.  In the filing on behalf of Wai Kin Yong, attorney Pancer alleges a general mistaken identity and lack of proof that the younger Yong was involved in any of the illicit activities bookmaking activities believed to be going on in the private villas, which were rented by Richard Yong and Paul Phua, well-known “whales” (high-rolling gamblers) on the international casino scene.

The filing by Pancer on behalf of Wai Kin Yong details not only why the defense counsel believes the charges should be dropped, but may serve as an outline for how other defendants in the case may similarly combat the charges.

The primary defense assertion put forth in the dismissal motion is that the younger Yong wasn’t actually involved in any of the illegal bookmaking activity — if indeed any was going on.  While Wai Kin’s name was attached to one of the laptops being used in the villas, and which was actively being used to examine bookmaking data on major Asian sportsbetting data at the moment of the raid, the defense asserts that the laptop was actually Richard Yong’s, not Wai Kin’s, and that Wai Kin’s name appeared in the laptop’s admin and setup areas because Wai Kin had purchased the laptop for his father as a birthday present and helped set it up.

Here are the relevant passages from the latest filings.  First, two paragraphs from the actual criminal complaint that detail Wai Kin’s alleged activities:

WEI SENG PHUA, DARREN PHUA, and WAI KIN YONG were watching the Netherlands vs. Argentina World Cup soccer game with other individuals when the search warrant was executed at Villa 8882. WEI SENG PHUA, DARREN PHUA, and WAI KIN YONG were sitting at active laptop computers with a “SBOBET” website displaying live odds for the soccer game and instant messaging windows. The odds were seen changing on the monitors. DARREN PHUA also had an “IBC” illegal sports bet website active on his laptop.

WAI KIN YONG’s laptop showed that he logged into “SBOBET” website with a usemame “hkl66888” and “HKS 12,852,706.32” (approximately $1.6 million USD) was available in the account balance. Further analysis of WAI KIN YONG’s laptop revealed that he used “WaiKin” as a login name for this laptop.

 

First, the defense filing alleges that despite the content shown on the screens, the activity described includes no actual criminal activity.  As Pancer and fellow defense attorney David T. Brown wrote:

In short, these paragraphs do not allege illegal activity or criminal conduct by Wai Kin Yong. The Government seized a laptop which it alleges was on the SBOBET website and displaying live odds. This does not demonstrate illegal betting. There is not any allegation that the Government recovered evidence showing that Wai Kin Yong bet or assisted anyone else to bet. If every inference is indulged for the Government, the evidence would only show that someone was logged into an account on that computer using the “WaiKin” user name. That is not proof that Wai Kin Yong owned the account, was the current user, was aware of the use, or had actually engaged in conduct constituting the offense. …

But the most interesting part of the filing is the assertion that one of the laptops seized, the one using “WaiKin” as a login, isn’t actually Wai Kin’s.  Here’s that excerpt:

These allegations regarding who owned the computer, and who had logged into the SORBET website, are false. Defendant Wai Kin Yong’s computer is a 17-inch Razer Blade laptop computer that was located in another room of the suite. The computer that is referenced in the Complaint was a 14-inch Razer Blade computer that was his father’s (Seng Chen Yong’s) computer. Defendant Wai Kin Yong purchased his computer as a gift for his father in 2013 in Malaysia, and the login name for the computer was “WaiKin” only because Wai Kin Yong initially set the computer up for him. The November 29, 2013 Facebook posting attached as Exhibit “A” evidences that Wai Kin bought this computer for his father. Wai Kin Yong used his father’s computer only on a few occasions since its purchase (primarily to access social media websites), and had not used it that day. In addition, the SORBET account that the father’s computer had opened was the betting account of Seng Chen Yong, and Wai Kin Yong had not used that account. …

Indeed, the filing includes as an appendix the referenced Facebook posting, which shows Wai Kin posing with the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro last November.  Assuming the post’s and photo’s veracity, the info does raise ownership questions about the seized laptop.  Also, as part of the same filing, Wai Kin’s attorney has filed a motion asking for the defense’s right to examine Wai Kin’s own 14-inch Razer Blade laptop which was also seized in the raid.

Regarding the original complaint, Wai Kin, like the others, faces a maximum of seven years imprisonment on the two gambling-business counts, although actual time served in such cases has tended to be much less.  Wai Kin and Richard Yong are among several defendants in the case who continue to be held without bail as presumed flight risks, though that matter is also under continuing protest by the Yongs’ defense attorneys.

In Wai Kin’s case, defense counsel has proposed that he be released on $500,000 bond, surrender all passports and travel documents, and along with his father, Richard, be allowed to stay at the Las Vegas home of poker pro Gabe Patkorski until the case is resolved.  The filing also notes that Macau games participant Phil Ivey, who helped finance the bail for Paul and Darren Phua, would do similar on behalf of the Yongs.

From the filing:

The following resources are available to secure bond for Wai Kin Yong:

(1) Las Vegas resident Gabe Patgorski will allow Wai Kin Yong and his father, Defendant [Richard] Seng Chen Yong, to stay at his home in Las Vegas for the duration of the case;

(2) $1 million from Las Vegas resident and professional poker player Phil Ivey;

(3) Approximately $6 million held in Seng Chen Yong’s two savings accounts. This money was lawfully earned by Seng Chen Yong through his licensed gaming junket business. Seng Chen Yong’s will transfer these assets, as necessary, to the United States as security for this bond.

(4) $2 million that Seng Chen Yong brought with him to Las Vegas for gambling and which is currently held in the Caesars Palace safe.

(5) $3 million in an account for Seng Chen Yong at Caesars Palace.

(6) The income earned by Seng Chen Yong through his successful gaming junket business (income-verification and licensing documents for Seng Chen Yong’s gaming junket business have been compiled and are available for review upon request).

FlushDraw will continue to monitor developments in the case.

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