UPDATE, July 29, 2014: Late Monday night, Paul and Darren Phua were reportedly finally released from federal custody at the Henderson Detention Center in Las Vegas. The Phuas’ high-profile attorney David Chesnoff expressed his (and no doubt, their) relief at finally being freed:
“We are gratified that our clients are free, and they’re looking forward to telling their side of the story in court,” he said.
Presumbly, the Phuas will now go into house arrest as was originally planned. We will continue to follow this story.
If you’re ever in a situation where your bail has been set at $2 million, having friends like Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl might come in handy. That’s what fellow poker pro Paul Phua discovered, when Ivey and Robl came to his financial aid in a failed bail attempt last week for the multimillion dollar bail bottom line.
According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Phil Ivey put up a total of $1 million in an attempt to post bail for recently arrested sports betting kingpin Paul Phua and his son, Darren Phua, both of whom were arrested in connection with a bust on an alleged illegal sports betting ring earlier this month. Ivey’s contribution was combined with another $1.5 million from fellow poker pro Andrew Robl in order to put up the full amount of the bonds: $2 million for Paul, and another $500,000 for Darren.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman had set those bails, and also required that Phua put up a private Gulfstream jet he owned as collateral. The plan was to have the two defendants stay on home detention under the custody of a Las Vegas physician who was friends with Paul Phua. The two would have been equipped with electronic monitoring during their detention.
But that release never occurred. Instead, before the Phuas could be freed, they were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who are now holding the men at the Henderson Detention Center near Las Vegas for possible deportation. Lawyer David Chesnoff, who is representing the defendants, said that they plan to challenge the ICE action.
“Our clients have complied with every condition set by a federal judge for their release,” Chesnoff said. “We have repeatedly attempted to contact ICE authorities, who have not responded. We are going to take further legal steps.”
The move to post bail for the Phuas highlights the family’s close connections with the world of high-stakes poker. Paul Phua is known to play in the “Big Game” in Macau, an ultra-high stakes cash game that Ivey and Robl are both known to have participated in. In a sworn affidavit, Robl said that he had been friends with the elder Phua for four years now, and would pay for his share of the bail money by cashing in chips at the Aria casino.
Tom “durrrr” Dwan is also a common face in those big games, and he too has shown support for the Phuas since their arrest. Dwan was actually with the men when they were arrested on July 13, and signed an affidavit that questioned the tactics used by agents during the arrest. According to reports, Dwan was also in federal court during the Phaus’ first appearance and has had conversations with defense lawyers throughout the process.
The Phuas were among a group of defendants that were arrested after an FBI raid on three villas at Caesars Palace, where authorities say an international sports betting ring was being operated from. According to officials, the group was taking wagers on the World Cup.
Paul Phua was also one of more than 20 people who were arrested in Macau on June 18 for running a similar sports betting operation. He was released on bail and flew to Las Vegas, where authorities allege that they continued operating the illegal ring from Caesars Palace.