Saturday April 18,2015 : PHUA SPORTS BETTING CASE – F.B.I. EVIDENCE IS INADMISSABLE (Update)
Judge rules that FBI violated Paul Phua’s privacy rights during investigation.
Federal prosecutors in the illegal sports betting case against Paul Phua suffered a setback Friday when US District Judge Andrew Gordon ruled that evidence gathered through a questionable FBI ruse abused the accused's privacy rights and is therefore inadmissible.
Our readers will recall that Phua and seven associates took up luxury accommodation at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas during the World Cup football last year, moving in sophisticated computer equipment.
Hotel officials reported the group to FBI agents who resorted to switching off the internet connection in order to enter the suite posing as repairmen. They secretly filmed within the suite and used the material to convince a judge to issue a search warrant.
The group was arrested in the subsequent raid, with all but Phua taking pleas and suffering forfeitures just to get out of town and return to their homes in Asia.
Phua was made of sterner stuff and continued to challenge the legality of the FBI actions, leading to Judge Gordon's consideration of the case after prosecutors appealed an earlier February ruling by US Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen that found the FBI evidence was fatally flawed due to the subterfuge used by the agents.
The judge said in his findings that if the FBI's questionable tactics were allowed to succeed in the courts it would open the doors for government enforcement agencies to conduct searches without warrant, "eviscerating" the judicial requirements for the issue of such authorities.
In their appeal, prosecutors said that their case against Phua would be seriously weakened if the judiciary found the evidence inadmissible, and Judge Gordon's ruling would therefore appear to leave the government in a difficult position.
Phua's legal representatives were pleased by the ruling, characterising it as a victory for Phua and American citizens in general.