Paul Phua: Search Warrant Obtained Illegally?4 years ago
Some new details have emerged in the Paul Phua et al. illegal betting case. According to the statements by Paul Phua’s attornies, the FBI have illegally obtained the search warrant for three luxury villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino and, if this holds, any evidence found during the search should be deemed inadmissible in court.
According to the reports by arstechnica, the FBI cooperated with Caesar’s in an effort to obtain a search warrant and as a part of this cooperation they shut down the internet access in the villas. This enabled them to enter the premises dressed as cable operators and obtain enough evidence to successfully push forward the motion for the search warrant.
In his request to remove the evidence obtained through the search, the defense lawyers stated the following:
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
The investigation in Phua and others began during the summer when the defendants started requesting a substantial amount of electronic equipment and Internet connections from the Caesar’s Palace. This triggered the suspicions that something uncanny was going on. The realization led to further investigation and eventual involvement of the FBI who then obtained the access to the villas under the false pretenses.
This was never mentioned in the initial request for the search warrant and the defense team firmly believes that had the judge been aware of all the circumstances, he would have never issued the warrant in the first place. All these things considered, they believe they have a firm ground to stand on in their request for the removal of the evidence from the proceedings.
Federal prosecutors will be issuing their response in the coming days and it will be interesting to see how the things unfold. While it is hard to give realistic predictions without having a substantial background in US law, this would not be the first time to see the law enforcement in the land of freewalking the fine line of legality.
The team of lawyers consisting of Thomas C. Goldstein, David Z. Chesnoff, Richard Schonfeld and Michael Pancer wrote a long letter pointing out all the irregularities but also not holding back on sarcasm.
The next time you call for assistance because the internet service in your home is not working, the “technician” who comes to your door may actually be an undercover government agent. He will have secretly disconnected the service, knowing that you will naturally call for help and – when he shows up at your door, impersonating a technician – let him in. he will walk through each room of your home, claiming to diagnose the problem. Actually, he will be videotaping everything (and everyone) inside.
Further in the letter, the lawyers explain that the occupants had actually denied access to agents presenting themselves as technicians earlier and, after that failed, the FBI created an urgent problem that would ensure they are granted access.
You can find the full text of the letter here if you are interested in all the fine points and laws and regulations cited. Although this pertains to an individual case, the decision here could have far reaching consequences if the court sides with the FBI. This being a poker site and all, we will not try to decipher these consequences here, but we will most certainly keep an eye on the Phua et al. case future developments.
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