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Judge Rules FBI Agents Went Too Far When Posing as Internet Repairmen

Earlier this week - on Monday June 1, 2015 - a federal judge in Nevada dismissed a controversial criminal case against a wealthy Malaysian gambler believed to be the ringleader of a World Cup betting scheme. The case - which has garnered international attention - was dismissed after a Judge ruled FBI agents went too far when they posed as internet repairmen in order to spy on Wei Seng “Paul” Phua’s actions.

Here are some details about the case:

  • The case centers on Phua, a well-known high stakes poker player who allegedly operated an illegal betting operation from the Caesar’s Palace hotel and resort in Las Vegas during the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.
  • While investigating the operation, FBI agents reportedly cut off internet service to the suites where illegal betting was allegedly taking place. They then posed as internet repairmen and entered the Caesar’s Palace suite without a search warrant.
  • Phua had been charged with operating an illegal gambling business, transmission of wagering information, and one count of conspiracy. On Monday, a federal judge officially dismissed the case and Phua has since left the country to return home.

The case and the unique circumstances involved have earned widespread attention not just for its move-like quality but also because it raised important questions about how far the government can go when investigating individuals suspected of committing crimes.

In this particular instance, it was argued that FBI agents overstepped their duty to investigate according to the law and that they violated Phua’s right against unreasonable searches. According to the federal judge presiding over the case, if evidence had been admitted, it could have set a dangerous precedent that opened the door to allow government agents to enter private spaces without appropriate warrants.

This case, while extraordinary, helps highlight the fact that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty and that the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. Whether it is a DUI case, theft charge, or white collar crime, suspects have this right.

At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., our Orange County criminal defense attorneys strive to protect our clients’ rights during all phases of their case - which is why we closely analyze whether law enforcement violated their protection against search and seizure during the investigation or arrest process.

If you have questions about your case - including questions involving searches and seizures - our legal team is available to review your case free of charge. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.