Man arrested in Bellagio Casino robbery heist

by Lauren Carter

Lauren-Carter@mocs.utc.edu

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police have arrested a 29-year-old Las Vegas man in the brazen armed robbery of $1.5 million in casino chips from the posh Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas police said Anthony M. Carleo was the motorcycle-helmeted bandit who waved a gun, grabbed high-value casino chips and made off on a motorcycle before dawn Dec. 14. No shots were fired and no one was hurt. Police said then that they thought the same man robbed the Suncoast casino in northwest Las Vegas early Dec. 8.

Bail was set at $15,000 pending a Friday court appearance on felony armed robbery and burglary charges, according to Clark County jail records. Jail records showed Carleo in custody under another name — Anthony M. Assad. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Carleo is the son of Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad.

Police said Carleo was also suspected of trafficking a controlled substance, but booking records did not reflect that charge. Police spokesman Bill Cassell refused to give further details on the arrest besides saying it happened in Las Vegas.

Stealing $1.5 million in chips isn’t like stealing $1.5 million, experts and police pointed out at the time of the robbery. Chips are unique to casino properties and are generally not interchangeable, although state regulations let casino companies redeem sister properties’ chips with some restrictions.

After the heist, Bellagio announced plans to discontinue the casino’s $25,000 chips in April, setting a deadline for the thief to try to use them. Police weren’t saying Thursday whether the suspect tried to redeem the chips — which ranged from $100 to $25,000 — before he was arrested.

Bellagio officials wouldn’t say whether MGM Resorts International properties are among Las Vegas casinos that embed radio frequency devices inside the tokens.

It took less than three minutes for the robber to pull off the heist, police say.

He entered a casino entrance from Flamingo Road, strode fewer than 500 feet to a craps table, brandished the handgun at the 10 to 12 patrons and three or four dealers with chips piled on the green felt, scooped up the loot and ran.

Casino security officers didn’t confront the robber, but a ceiling security video camera followed his path out the door. Morgan said a 911 call was placed to police while the man was still in the casino. He was gone by the time police arrived.

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Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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