Judge grants 90-day extension of TRO
by Nick Delgado
Guam - A temporary restraining order on an HSBC Bank account for Wai Kam Ho was extended another 90 days. Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood issued the ruling today after the U.S. Attorney's Office brought in IRS Special Agent Todd Peterson to take the stand and detailed the search warrant and investigation conducted on the alleged illegal gambling activity surrounding Ho.
He explained how Ho and his wife have a pattern of dealing with extreme amounts of cash, and contends the pair have no source of legitimate income, nor has Wai Kam Ho filed any tax returns. It's what the judge calls "a potential money laundering issue."
Despite defense attorney Peter Perez argument that the government has no evidence that the source of funds were obtained illegally, Judge Gatewood said there is good cause to extend and she also allowed the IRS and the government to trace funds in the accounts. Ho was hoping to have the TRO dissolved, alleging he should have access to that money and the order isn't valid because it's a foreign bank account that the court doesn't have jurisdiction over.
Several months ago the feds executed a number of search warrants at the MGM Spa, Crazy Horse, Paradise Bingo and several other businesses that it believes were involved in an illegal gambling and money laundering conspiracy with the Overseas Chinese Association Center. A number of bank accounts were frozen as the investigation continues.
Peterson contends there's probable cause to believe that Ho wasn't just involved in money laundering but illegal gambling and failing to file a report on foreign bank and financial accounts. Today's TRO extension follows the government's contention that it has enough evidence to show that money was being "secreted in foreign bank accounts" to go undetected by the U.S. Government. Peterson referred to an interview they conducted with Ho following the execution of the search warrants where he freely admitted that he and others were conducting an illegal poker business out of the MGM Spa, being paid $6,000 a month by William Perez to run the operation.
They also stated that Ho's wife, Betsy Ho, operated and received income from paradise bingo, which the government alleges, was being run illegally. According to an affidavit the feds filed with the court, the IRS is seeking a mutual legal assistance agreement with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to obtain the records for Ho's HSBC account and others. Peterson says until the records are obtained, the IRS is unable to ascertain the source of the funds.
They also noted that Ho has failed to file 1040 forms for tax years 2007-2010 and MGM Spa hasn't filed any gross receipts taxes for the last several years or corporate income tax returns. Peterson also referred to Ho's 2003 misdemeanor gambling conviction, which was, expunged in 2008 as Ho claimed he was under threat of immediate deportation. The feds believe that the case was wiped clean from ho's record by false representation as they fully believe that Ho was involved in illegal gambling activities at the time he sought the expungement of his criminal case in the superior court.
The TRO remains in tact for another 90 days and Peterson told the judge he believes they will have an indictment before then.