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Jeff German

Poker player and illegal bookmaking target Paul Phua has left the country

3 June 2015

It didn’t take Paul Phua long to leave the country.

His defense lawyers said he departed the Signature executive terminal at McCarran International Airport for an unknown destination at about 4 p.m. Monday, just five hours after a federal judge dismissed conspiracy and illegal gambling charges against him.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon ordered the dismissal after federal prosecutors told him they no longer had enough evidence to present against the Malaysian businessman at trial.

Prosecutors are considering appealing the dismissal and Gordon’s decision last week to throw out the bulk of the evidence against Phua, 51, a widely known poker player and Strip high roller.

Gordon barred the government from using evidence FBI agents seized from Caesars Palace villas during a July 9 raid on an alleged operation that accepted millions of dollars in illegal wagers on World Cup soccer.

Attorney David Chesnoff said he and fellow defense team members, Thomas Goldstein and Richard Schonfeld, were present when Phua left the executive terminal on his $48 million private jet, which has been idle for more than 10 months while he fought the criminal charges.

Chesnoff said he was informed that Phua had reached his destination outside the United States but did not know where he landed. Before the charges were dismissed, Chesnoff said Phua was eager to visit his ailing mother in Malaysia.

Phua was among eight defendants from Malaysia and China charged in the international betting case. Six pleaded guilty and were each fined and sentenced to five years of probation on condition they stay out of the U.S. during that period. The case against a seventh defendant was dismissed.