Defendant Paul Phua
When the FBI applied for warrants this summer to raid three $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino, it omitted some key investigatory details that eventually resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, including an alleged leader of a well-known Chinese crime syndicate, defense lawyers maintained in Las Vegas federal court documents late Tuesday.
The authorities built, in part, a case for a search warrant (PDF) by turning off Internet access in three villas shared by the eight individuals arrested. At various points, an agent of the FBI and a Nevada gaming official posed as the cable guy, secretly filming while gathering evidence of what they allege was a bookmaking ring where “hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bets” on World Cup soccer were taking place.
“If this Court authorizes this duplicity, the government will be free to employ similar schemes in virtually every context to enter the homes of perfectly innocent people. Agents will frequently have no incentive to follow the warrant procedure required by the Constitution,” defense lawyers wrote the Las Vegas federal magistrate presiding over the prosecution.
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