Paul Phua Acquitted of Charges in Macau Case
While everyone waits to see what happens in Phil Ivey's ongoing saga with Borgata, another nosebleed-stakes poker player with his name in the court system got some welcome news early last week.
Paul Phua, who was facing charges of running an illegal gambling ring from some rooms at Wynn Macau, has been acquitted along with 14 others after a Macau court ruled the prosecution failed to provide clear evidence of the charges. The presiding judge said the prosecutors failed to prove the paraphernalia apprehended belonged to the defendants, and that the computers were in fact being used to book sports bets from clearly identifiable individuals, according to Macau Business.
"The court can't make any connection," the judge is quoted as saying. "There is a lack of connecting elements."
Details of the Case
The trial, which took place in early February, dated from a 2014 raid on several rooms at Wynn Macau during the soccer World Cup. In the aftermath, more than 20 were arrested and authorities alleged that nearly $150 million in sports bets moved through Phua's group.
"[Phua's] lawyers produced several witnesses showing that the charges were false," proclaimed a press release from Phua's representatives. "Among other things, experts testified that his phone and computer records conclusively showed that he had not participated in taking any bets and had not cooperated with any betting ring.
Tom Goldstein (Phua's lawyer): "Paul was innocent and is willing to gamble when he knows he is right."
"In fact, the defense witnesses showed, Paul had arrived in Macau only just before the police raid and was there for an important meeting on a potential business project."
A defense lawyer called it "all a big load of nothing" and said the defendants were satisfied with the acquittal.
PokerNews reached out to Tom Goldstein, one of Phua's lawyers, for comment.
"Paul was innocent and is willing to gamble when he knows he is right," Goldstein said. "He never had anything to do with an illegal gambling ring and the judge clearly understood that there was no evidence against him."
Not Phua's First Win in Court
For Phua, a high-stakes poker player with over $5 million in tournament cashes including two wins in $100K events, it was a strikingly familiar ending to a strikingly familiar situation.
Also in 2014 during the World Cup, Phua was arrested as part of an FBI sting on what was alleged to be an illegal sports betting operation run out of Caesars Palace. It was ruled that law enforcement had violated Phua's rights in a slew of missteps, including failing to obtain a proper warrant, and the case was thrown out.
Phua, for his part, went on the record with PokerNews in an in-depth story, denying alleged connections to infamous Triad organized crime syndicate.
"It's absolute nonsense and without any basis in fact," he said.
Back to the Tables?
In the aftermath of his second big court case — Phua faced a possibility of three years of prison time if convicted — Phua appears to be right back to business as usual. That means playing in his poker games of choice these days, the Triton Super High Roller Series.
Phua has been a regular in the events over the past couple of years, and as the latest Triton series gets going in Jeju, the Malaysian high-stakes veteran finds himself right back in the mix. Phua played in the Event #2: HK$250,000 (~$32,000) Short Deck Bounty tournament and notched a decent result, finishing eighth for HK$1.3 million (~$165,000).
The Triton series continues through March 9, and with his latest court hassle behind him, it appears Phua will be free to focus on the tasks at hand of trying to add to his $5.2 million in cashes.
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