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September 4, 2015

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Metro Police arrest judge’s son in Bellagio casino robbery

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Surveillance video images of an armed man who police believe robbed the Bellagio and Suncoast casinos. The Suncoast robbery is at the left and right, and Bellagio is in the center.

Updated Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 | 7:46 p.m.

Bellagio robbery

KSNV coverage of arrest in $1.5 million robbery at the Bellagio, Feb. 3, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Anthony M. Carleo

Metro news conference on arrest

Robber Flees the Bellagio

Anthony Carleo, the 29-year-old judge’s son suspected of stealing $1.5 million worth of chips from the Bellagio during a brazen armed robbery, expressed his desire to “come up with some very big money” at the very casino he allegedly robbed days later, according to an arrest report released Thursday.

Metro Police said Carleo proceeded to rob the casino Dec. 14, setting in motion seven weeks of gambling, peddling chips and extended stays at the Bellagio until his arrest Wednesday night on the casino floor.

The arrest followed an extensive investigation into the headline-grabbing robbery at one of the Strip’s most recognizable casinos.

Carleo, the son of a Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad, was arrested and booked on counts of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and burglary with use of a deadly weapon, police said. He was being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

Metro Lt. Ray Steiber said during a news conference that Carleo was arrested while staying at the Bellagio after an undercover police investigation.

He said police recovered $900,000 worth of chips and have accounted for another $300,000 in chips.

The arrest report details an extensive investigation crossing state lines as several people came forward with tips implicating Carleo in the robbery. Police allege Carleo admitted to his involvement after being taken into custody.

The first of the missing high-value chips surfaced when a Salvation Army bell-ringer tried to cash in a $25,000 chip at the Bellagio on Dec. 23. After raising suspicion, the bell-ringer told security a stranger had given him the chip while he was tending a donation kettle between the MGM Grand and New York-New York.

Police questioned and released him following an interview.

The day before, a poker dealer at the Bellagio had contacted police and said he thought Carleo might be responsible, based on conversations prior to and after the robbery, authorities said.

On Dec. 11, Carleo allegedly told the dealer he needed quick money and said, “Man, how easy would it be to rob a casino?”

The dealer told police Carleo dismissed the notion that it would be difficult, allegedly saying, “All you need is a black mask and a motorcycle, and I have a motorcycle.”

The dealer told police he feared for his life after he confronted Carleo about the Bellagio robbery, at which point Carleo denied any involvement but was gambling days after admittedly being broke.

Police noted in the arrest report that they learned the following information upon beginning to investigate Carleo:

• He owned a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle, which matched the make and model of the one used in the robbery.

• He didn’t own any weapons, but firearms consistent with the one used in the robbery were found during a firearms check where he had been residing, 1825 Corta Bella Drive, a gated community in Las Vegas. Clark County Assessor records show the home is owned by his father.

Carleo had previously lived in Pueblo, Colo., where he had a real estate broker associate’s license that expired Aug. 1, 2010. In September 2009, Carleo had filed for bankruptcy.

U.S. Treasury Records indicate he had nine cash transactions in excess of $10,000 from the day of the Bellagio robbery through Dec. 23, police said.

From the time of the robbery through Jan. 22, Carleo had lost more than $107,000 gambling at the Bellagio, despite telling police during a field interview Jan. 3 that he was a college student with no reportable income.

On his Facebook page, Carleo described himself as a biology/pre-med student at UNLV and listed the quote, “Money isn’t everything but it’s right up there next to oxygen.”

Meanwhile, according to the arrest report, police received more tips allegedly linking Carleo to the robbery, including one from a friend of his who contacted authorities after fearing Carleo might strike another casino.

The friend, who had played poker with Carleo, told police Carleo allegedly owed more than $250,000 to the mob.

The friend said Carleo confessed to him about robbing the Bellagio and on Jan. 21 said he might need to do “something drastic in the next several days” — prompting the friend to contact authorities, according to the arrest report.

Carleo had been staying at the Bellagio from at least Jan. 19 to Jan. 26, receiving complimentary rooms, meals and beverages based on his level of gambling, police noted in the report.

Bellagio’s security team had put Carleo under surveillance beginning Jan. 19 because his gambling winnings and losses seemed suspicious, according to the arrest report. Bellagio staff suspected he was cashing chips that weren’t part of his winnings.

On Jan. 28, police received another tip: A man named Matthew Brooks from Vienna, Va., had contacted Bellagio investigators because he believed he had spoken to the Bellagio robber on the Internet, the arrest report alleges.

The two struck up a conversation on the TwoPlusTwo.com poker website on Jan. 16. According to the arrest report, Brooks began exchanging e-mails with “Oceanspray25,” who tried to sell him some of the stolen $25,000 chips.

During subsequent talks on the phone and more e-mails — from cranberrykid25@yahoo.com, a reference to the color of the $25,000 chips, and signed “Biker Bandit” — Brooks told Bellagio investigators the subject allegedly confessed to the Bellagio robbery.

A police check on the origin of the e-mails indicated they came from the address on Corta Bella Drive in Las Vegas, which matched Carleo’s Nevada driver’s license, according to the police report.

As investigators narrowed their sights on Carleo, undercover officers began meeting with him at the Bellagio on Jan. 28 to buy the $25,000 chips, according to the arrest report. Carleo allegedly sold the undercover officer several $25,000 chips, which he said were from the Bellagio heist, and police took him into custody.

When questioned by investigators during an interview at police headquarters following the arrest, Carleo confessed to his involvement in the robbery, police said.

The night Carleo was arrested, police also made contact with his girlfriend at the Bellagio.

She consented to a search of her apartment.

Inside, police recovered sixteen $25,000 chips and $5,000 worth of cash, according to the arrest report. They found seven more $25,000 chips at another residence in Las Vegas after executing a search warrant.

Thursday afternoon, Carleo’s father, George Assad, said in a statement that his family is “devastated and heartbroken” about the arrest, but he cannot ethically discuss the pending legal matter.

“I can say that as a prosecutor and a judge, I have always felt people who break the law need to be held accountable,” Assad wrote.

Carleo is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday morning, according to jail records.

At the time of the Bellagio robbery, investigators said they suspected the Bellagio bandit was the same man who robbed the Suncoast, 9090 Alta Drive, on Dec. 9. In that holdup, the man robbed a cashier’s cage near where a poker tournament was going on and got away with just less than $20,000, police said.

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