FBI cut off internet to hotel room, posed as repair guys to record video without warrant

Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas.

Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas.

FBI agents cut off Internet access to three luxury villas at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, then "impersonated repair technicians to surreptitiously get inside and collect evidence in an investigation of online sports betting," reports the AP. Said a lawyer for the defendants, "They were trying everything they could to get inside without a warrant."

The details of how the federal agents pulled it off are very funny. The AP got a hold of 30 minutes of video recorded through the lapel camera worn by one of the agents.

The video shows investigators devising code words to use while they were inside, a back-and-forth about the cover story for an agent, who adopted the name "Sam," which he had used "for other stuff" in the past, and a brief exchange about how another investigator should dress for the role of a technical repair nerd.

"If you put on that shirt, you have to look the part. Go all the way," said Mike Wood, an outside technician working for Caesars, advising Nevada Gaming Control Board Agent Ricardo Lopez before Lopez headed to one of the suites the morning of July 4. An FBI agent, Mike Kung, accompanied him also undercover.

The accused leader of the illegal gambling operation, Wei Seng Phua, "had the odds up on his page the whole time." The 50 year old Malaysian millionaire is said to be a senior member of the 14k Triad, a Chinese organized crime group. His lawyer says he denies that, and that it has "nothing to do with the criminal case in Nevada."

"The next time your telephone service goes out, the 'repairman' who responds may actually be an FBI agent who cut the line himself," Phua's lawyers said in court documents presented this week.

"The next time your cable television service goes fuzzy, your plumbing backs up, or your lights go dark, caveat emptor: the source of the problem may actually be the government agent lurking in his car down the street, waiting for you to call for help – thereby unknowingly 'consenting' to him using a secret camera to record you and the most private spaces in your home."