Charges Dismissed in Paul Phua Illegal-Bookmaking Case
United States District Judge Andrew P. Gordon today dismissed three felony charges against Asian gambling kingpin Wei Seng “Paul” Phua, in connection with the operation of a “boiler room” online sportsbetting business from private guest villas at Caesars Palace last summer. The dismissal of charges came after a status hearing in which United States Attorney’s Office prosecutors were forced to acknowledge that they could not move forward with their case.
The US’s federal prosecution against Phua, the last of eight original defendants in the case, derailed last month when Judge Gordon ruled on two separate occasions that evidence gathered against Phua was inadmissible. The evidence had been initially gathered by FBI agents via deceptive and warrantless searches that were ruled to have violated Phua’s privacy rights.
The official court order issued by Judge Gordon dismissing the charges against Phua reads as follows:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEVADA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
WEI SENG “PAUL” PHUA et al., Defendants
Case No. 2:14-cr-249 APG PAL
This matter came before the Court on June 1, 2015 for a status check. During that hearing, the government stated that it cannot proceed with the case against defendant Wei Seng Phua in light of my prior orders suppressing all evidence seized from Villas 8881, 8882, and 8888. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the Superseding Indictment against defendant Wei Seng Phua is hereby dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the bond securing Wei Seng Phua’s pre-trial release is exonerated and all conditions of release are removed.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that all property securing defendant Wei Seng Phua’s bond, including the Gulfstream Aerospace model GV-SP (G550) aircraft bearing manufacturer’s serial number 5344 and United States Registration No. N888XS along with the two aircraft engines, are released with no Court-imposed restrictions.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the $2,500,000 cash bail also securing defendant Wei Seng Phua’s bond shall be returned to its true and legal owners.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that defendant Wei Seng Phua’s passport shall be returned to Wei Seng Phua immediately.
Dated this 1st day of June, 2015
Andrew P. Gordon
United States District Court Judge
Phua’s private Gulfstream 5 jet, generally valued north of $40 million, has been released, depriving the Nevada USAO of the prized asset targeted for forfeiture in the case. Phua now is freed of the Clark County travel restrictions as well; he had lived for nearly a year at the Las Vegas home of high-stakes poker pro Ton “durrrr” Dwan. The $2.5 million in bail was put up on Phua’s behalf by two other prominent poker pros, Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl. All of the pros had played poker frequently with Phua on the international poker scene, particularly in the Macau “Big Game” that no longer runs in that Chinese enclave.
The dismissal represents another legal victory for Phua’s prominent defense counsel, including the high-profile Vegas firm of Chesnoff and Schonfeld, plus East Coast gaming lawyer and constitutional attorney Thomas Goldstein.
Said David Chesnoff to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, after Judge Gordon ordered the dismissal, “Paul Phua stood his ground for himself, his friends and family and all of us. Ultimately, he has been vindicated by our constitutional system and the honesty and strength of our federal judiciary. He is free.”
Added Goldstein, “Paul Phua stayed in the United States to defeat these charges because he was innocent and because the government’s misconduct made the case even more unjust.”
Phua is expected to leave the United States in the immediate future, returning to his home country of Malaysia.