In a federal case now working its way through the courts in Las Vegas, the question is whether federal agents can disrupt Internet service to a house and then, masquerading as helpful technicians, gain entry to search the premises in hopes of finding evidence that might later justify a search warrant, NPR reports. The defendants are Chinese gamblers who were staying in villas at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace this year.
The Nevada Gaming Commission and the FBI were suspicious about illegal gambling. That wasn’t enough for a search warrant. So, according to court papers filed by defense lawyers yesterday, the FBI came up with a plan: Working with a computer contractor for Caesar’s Palace, the agents first tried to get in by delivering laptops and asking to come in to make sure the connections worked. The butler wouldn’t let them in. When that ploy failed, the agents came up with “another trick,” says defense lawyer Tom Goldstein: “We’ll dress up as technicians, we’ll come inside, we’ll claim to be fixing the Internet connection — even though we can’t, ’cause we broke it from outside — and then we’ll just look around and see what we see.”