LAS VEGAS – A duo of top poker pros who posted a total of $2.5 million bail money in order to release a gambling kingpin arrested from a Vegas bust during the 2014 FIFA World Cup failed after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took the defendants into custody for possible deportation.
Earlier, in cooperation with the Nevada Gaming Control busted three Caesar Palace’s suites in Las Vegas and arrested eight Asians including Phua Wei Seng, 50, a Malaysian top gaming junket operator at the Sands Casino in Macau and a high-ranking member of the organized crime group 14k Triad for operating an illegal gambling ring in Las Vegas.
Phil Ivey, pokers champ who had ten World Series of Poker bracelets, one World Poker Tour title and appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables, posted $1 million – 50% for Phua’s $2 million bail and the other half for Phua’s $500,000 bond.
In addition, another high stake poker player Andrew Robl who claimed he was friends with Phua placed his winnings from Aria worth $1.5 million in Phua’s bail.
However, as soon as the bail was posted, agents from ICE, the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, took the Phuas and locked them at the Henderson Detention Center for possible deportation.
“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,” said Las Vegas lawyer David Chesnoff who represents the Phuas.
According to U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, the Las Vegas operation started shortly after Phua left the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, where he had been arrested on June 18 for illegal sports betting on the World Cup.
Phua who had an estimated worth of $400 million was required to post $2 million cash bail, put up his $48 million private Gulfstream jet as collateral and wear a GPS monitoring device.
The suspects, if convicted would each face up to two years jail time on unlawful transmission count and five years imprisonment for illegal gambling business count with fines of $250,000.