Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2023

Bellagio bandit gets 3-11 years for $1.5 million chip heist


Justin M. Bowen

Anthony Carleo appears at the Regional Justice Center on June 16, 2011. He admitted to robbing the Suncoast and Bellagio casinos last December.

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 | 12:19 p.m.

Carleo in Court - July 16

Anthony Carleo appears at the Regional Justice Center on June 16, 2011. He has admitted to robbing the Suncoast and Bellagio casinos last December. Launch slideshow »

Anthony Carleo, the self-described “Biker Bandit” and “Cranberrykid” who admitted robbing the Bellagio and Suncoast casinos, will be going to prison for at least three years after a sentence handed down this morning in Clark County District Court.

“I’m very sorry for everything I’ve done. I owe my mother and my father an apology,” Carleo told Judge Michelle Leavitt, speaking softly in a courtroom that contained mostly news media and his friends and family. His father, former Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, was at the sentencing.

Judge Leavitt sentenced Carleo to serve from three to 11 years for the robbery, which took place in December. Carleo admitted he was the man who, on Dec. 14, dressed in black, including a full-faced motorcycle helmet, went into the craps pit area of the Bellagio and took about $1.5 million in casino chips, including many cranberry-colored $25,000 chips, then sped away on a motorcycle.

He also admitted he had used the same tactic on Dec. 9 to rob the Suncoast casino of $18,945 from a cashier’s cage that was near where a poker tournament had been taking place.

Carleo is scheduled to be sentenced for the Suncoast robbery at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 25 before Judge Michael Villani. For the Suncoast robbery, Carleo has pleaded guilty to one count of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and assault with the use of a deadly weapon in connection with the Suncoast robbery.

Carleo’s attorney, William Terry, told the court that he would argue for the sentences in both robberies to run concurrently.

Terry said Carleo had been the “all-American boy” before getting mixed up in drugs and gambling when he came to Las Vegas to further his education at UNLV.

Terry said Carleo started using marijuana, then hurt his knee in an accident and started taking prescription drugs for the pain. Terry said Carleo became hooked on the prescription medication, then eventually became hooked on both cocaine and gambling.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens argued for a heavy sentence, saying Carleo brandished a weapon during the robberies and threatened potential witnesses with violence after the robberies.

Owens also said Carleo not only planned out the two casino robberies, but also was planning to hit Caesars Palace using the same tactics, before he was arrested.

Originally, Carleo was charged with seven felony counts in the Bellagio robbery. Under his plea deal, he pleaded guilty in the Bellagio heist to one count of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and assault with the use of a deadly weapon. Leavitt sentenced him to serve from 24 to 84 months on the robbery charge, plus a consecutive sentence of from 12 to 48 months for the use of a deadly weapon. She also sentenced him to serve a 12- to 36-month concurrent sentence for the assault charge.

Carleo's attorney argued against the $1.5 million in restitution, saying that many of the chips Carleo stole were either recovered or are now worthless because the casino has discontinued their use.

"Certainly the Bellagio will never utilize or accept those chips again," Terry said.

After hearing that argument, Leavitt decided to continue the issue of restitution until Carleo is sentenced on Thursday for the Suncoast robbery.

In arguing for a tough sentence, Owens said casino employees who were involved in the robbery were "terrorized by the use of a real gun" and there was the potential danger to others at the casino.

"The defendant acted extremely recklessly in the commission of this crime," Owens said.

Owens said Carleo had "every opportunity in life," including the financial support of his family.

"It wasn't that he did it and felt remorseful about it. He just went right into the next planning, went right into the next crime," Owens said. He said they found plans in Carleo's hotel room that showed he had been making plans to rob Caesars Palace.

"He thought this was fun. He referred to himself as the 'bandit' and the 'Cranberry kid' and to him it was just a big joke," Owens said.

Owens said he would argue for consecutive, rather than for concurrent, sentences for the Suncoast robbery.

"We'll be addressing that with the next judge in a couple of days," Owens said. "There really should be a double penalty for these two different events just a few days apart and recognizing the seriousness of both these activities in our community."

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