The illegal gambling charges against poker pro Paul Phua and his son Darren will see only the elder Phua go to trial next month as the younger Phua has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
Citing a case of homesickness, Darren Phua, 23, wants to go home to Malaysia and will pay a $125,000 fine along with admitting guilt to a gambling charge, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The father-son duo have been unable to leave Nevada since their arrest last July.
Aussie Millions Champ
The Phuas were initially charged along with six other defendants from either China or Malaysia including poker pro Richard Yong. All charges were dropped against one defendant, while Yong and the others agreed to similar deals that the young Phua will stipulate to.
Those who pled guilty and had their cases disposed of were no longer required to remain in Nevada. Yong used his freedom wisely, winning the APPT9 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge about five weeks ago. With his first championship title, the Malaysian high roller added $1.87 million to his bankroll.
For those unfamiliar with the details of the case, the defendants had rented Caesars Palace villas last summer and were allegedly accepting millions of dollars in wagers on World Cup Soccer action. Federal agents were apparently wise to the scheme but needed a way to get inside the villas and obtain enough information to secure a search warrant.
It was decided that the Internet service in the villas would be disabled, and a ruse that involved agents posing as repairmen followed. Evidence was gathered during the Internet service “repair” that led to the agents obtaining a search warrant and later conducting a raid in the villas and making arrests.
Constitutional Rights an Issue
In later court hearings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled that the affidavit sworn to by the agents in order to obtain the search warrant contained “false and misleading statements” and deemed the evidence inadmissible due to a lack of probable cause as the search was not done legally. Prosecutors disagree and are asking another judge to intervene and rule in their favor.
Judge Leen, however, sided with the prosecution in determining that Phua’s constitutional rights were not violated during the fake repair job. Attorneys for the defense take issue with that ruling and also with allegations that Phua is affiliated with the Chinese mob outfit 14K Triad. Phua’s lawyers will have much to say about those matters at the opening day of trial scheduled for April 13 before U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon.
Home Sweet Home
The defendants who previously pled guilty in the case also agreed not to enter the U.S. during 5-year probationary periods. That is apparently fine with Darren Phua, who has not seen his friends and family other than his father since last summer and is reportedly feeling pangs of anxiety related to being separated from his homeland.