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In breaking news, Paul Phua and his son were released by ICE, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, from the Henderson Detention Centeron on Monday.
David Chesnoff, lawyer for the Phuas said, “We are gratified that our clients are free, and they’re looking forward to telling their side of the story in court.”
On July 16, PokerGuru reported about the FBI undercover operation, which led to the arrest of high-stakes players Paul Phua and Sean Chen (Richard) Yong, along with their sons Wai Kit “Darren” Phua and Wai Kin Yong at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
A few days earlier, news had come in that poker professionals Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl posted 2.5 million bail for Phua and his son however, freedom had been denied.
Bail had been set for $2 million and $500,000 bonds, respectively for Phua and his son. Robl chipped in 1.5 million and Ivey paid $500,000 against each man, redeeming the bail amount. Phua had to also put up his $48 million jet up as collateral security, besides the cash amount required for the bail.
U.S Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman ordered the two to “stay on home detention with electronic monitoring,” once bail was cleared. However, before the two could walk out, agents from ICE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intervened and took the two to the Henderson Detention Center.
While no clear reasons had been given for the move, reports of possible deportation were being hinted at.
Reports also came in about a campaign by U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn, who has been seeking to stop the release of the arrested players, who are not US citizens, using this as an argument to emphasize the chances of the accused taking flight.
Frayn has been suggesting that many more players are involved in the illegal betting activities, without mentioning any names, though he has hinted at more arrests in the coming days. Frayn spoke against Phua at the July 14 hearing stating that the accused player was worth much more than the $300 to $400 million, he had declared to court officials.
Reacting strongly against the detention of the players, even though bail had been posted, David Chesnoff, the Phua’s lawyer said that legal steps would be taken to release the men. Chessnoff stated, “Our clients have complied with every condition set by a federal judge for their release. We have repeatedly attempted to contact ICE authorities, who have not responded. We are going to take further legal steps.”
Chessnoff had earlier represented Phil Ivey, during his difficult divorce case.
In the meanwhile, poker colleagues of Phua have rallied around him and are said to be standing by the accused Chinese businessman. Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl have played several times against Phua on many big-ticket international tournaments, as well as the famed Macau “Big Game.” Another Macau game regular, Tom “durrrr” Dwan has taken a stand for the Phua’s and was present when FBI men had arrested them on July 13. Dwan even filed a sworn affidavit that has questioned the FBI tactics in the undercover operation. He was also seen attending court proceedings and having private discussions with defense lawyers.
Prior to this, Phua had also been arrested on June 18 for illegal bettings in Macau.
In the Vegas FBI raid, investigations had revealed that Phua was actually a prominent Mafiosi, part of the Chinese 14K Triad mob, synonymous with crimes, such as extortion, prostitution, drugs and arms trafficking. Paul Phua is also an avid online player, who goes by the id of “MalACEsia.”
In all eight people had been arrested from the Caesar’s Palace Hotel at Vegas, where they had booked three premium villas and high-tech equipment for the betting operations. The FBI had posed as technicians and caught the group red-handed.
Based on the recent news, it is now leant that Ivey has come forward to pay Yong and his son Wai Kin Yong’s bail, but will be putting up only $500,000 for the son, as the senior has “$2 million sitting in a Caesars Palace safe.” Yong is flush with money and ranks 1st on the Malaysian All Time money list, due partly to his win of $1,237,333 in the 2012 World Series of Poker $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop.
Ivey’s gesture of helping his fellow poker players was revealed from court documents, filed by the Yong’s San Diego based attorney, Michael Pancer.The court papers also contained support for the Yongs from two other players, John Juanda and Gabe Patgorski. In a letter by Juanda, he calls them men of “honor and integrity,” while Patgorski has offered his Las Vegas home to the Yongs, in event of their release.
U.S Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman will be going over the detention order of the Yongs, later in the week.
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