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Two key players plead guilty in federal World Cup betting case

Two key players in a multimillion-dollar World Cup betting scheme pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court.

Hong Kong real estate man Hui Tang, 44, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of transmission of wagering information, and Malaysian casino junketeer Richard Yong, 56, entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact to transmission of wagering information.

Three lesser players pleaded guilty to the same misdemeanors in the international gambling case on Tuesday, and criminal charges against another defendant were dismissed. The remaining two defendants are fighting illegal gambling charges.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon sentenced both Tang and Yong, after their pleas, to five years of unsupervised probation and ordered them to stay out of the United States during that period.

Gordon also fined Tang $250,000 and ordered him to forfeit to the government up to $250,000 in cash, as well as property FBI agents seized during a July 9 raid on the gambling operation at Caesars Palace.

Yong, who is well-known at poker tables in Las Vegas and Macao, was fined $100,000 and ordered to forfeit $400,000 in cash and property.

Tang apologized in court, and lawyers for both men said their clients were eager to leave the country and return to their families. The two defendants plan to leave by Friday.

In handing out the sentences, Gordon said the betting operation, which accepted wagers on the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, was “sophisticated and extensive.”

Tang admitted in his plea agreement that he played a key role in the scheme during June and July. He acknowledged that FBI agents found a computer at his Caesars Palace villa that contained Skype chat logs between Las Vegas and the Philippines of illegal wagering conversations.

Agents seized more than 100 electronic devices, including cell phones and computers, during the Caesars Palace raid and determined the group made a $13 million profit accepting wagers on soccer games, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, three defendants — Yan Zhang, 41, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, all of Hong Kong — pleaded guilty before Gordon.

They also were sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation and ordered to stay out of the country during that period. Each defendant was fined $100,000 and ordered to forfeit $125,000 in cash and assets.

At the request of prosecutors, Gordon dismissed the criminal case Wednesday against Yong’s son, Wai Kin Yong. That leaves wealthy Malaysian businessman Paul Phua and his son, Darren, to fight the illegal gambling charges.

The elder Phua, 50, who also is a well-known on the international poker player circuit, has been described by authorities as one of the leaders of the operation.

FBI agents took Phua and the seven other defendants into custody on the Strip several days after the July 9 raid, which occurred at three exclusive Caesars Palace villas. The Strip resort tipped off authorities to the operation.

Agents alleged that Phua was known to be a high-ranking member of the Hong Kong-based 14K Triad, but defense lawyers contend the FBI has little evidence to support that claim.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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