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Hearing suspended until next month in Bellagio robbery case

Undercover officer testifies Carleo told him pink $25,000 chips were from ‘perfect’ Bellagio heist

Biker Bandit

Justin M. Bowen

Anthony M. Carleo appears with his attorney, William Terry, during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 | 4:54 p.m.

Biker Bandit

Anthony M. Carleo appears in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, in connection with a heist at the Bellagio. Launch slideshow »

Hearing delayed

KSNV coverage of suspended hearing for man accused in Bellagio casino heist, Feb. 23, 2011.

A Las Vegas judge Wednesday decided to suspend a preliminary hearing until next month for Anthony M. Carleo, who police accuse of being the "biker bandit" who stole about $1.4 million in casino chips in December from the Bellagio hotel-casino and sped away on a motorcycle into the night.

After several witnesses testified, the hearing was suspended so defense attorney Bill Terry can talk to an informant who was at several alleged meetings that took place between Carleo and an undercover Metro Police officer. The undercover officer said Carleo met with him five times, selling chips from the Dec. 14, 2010, Bellagio heist.

Carleo was arrested Feb. 3 at the resort after he was allegedly making a transaction to sell several more of the pink $25,000 chips to the undercover police officer.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Owens initially objected to Terry interviewing the informant. However, Judge Ann Zimmerman told Owens that Terry had the law on his side.

Zimmerman set a status check for the case for 8:30 a.m. March 9 to decide whether the informant would be brought in as a witness.

Also, Zimmerman set bail for Carleo at $1 million and said that if he was able to post bail he would be under house arrest. Carleo is being held at the Clark County Detention Center.

Carleo, the 29-year-old son of Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad, had initially been charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary with a deadly weapon.

Four more charges were added onto the criminal complaint today: Robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, victim 60 years of age or older, for robbing of one of the craps table workers; three more counts of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, for robbing the three other craps table employees, and two more counts of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly pointing a gun at a security officer and a valet as he made his way to the motorcycle.

During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, four witnesses were brought in by prosecutors. They included three Bellagio employees and the undercover police officer.

George Pappas, a Bellagio valet supervisor, testified he was working about 3:50 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2010, when the robbery occurred.

Pappas was working at the casino's north entrance to the casino, when activity was quiet.

He said a man wearing a dark motorcycle helmet with white stripes walked by briskly and went into the casino. The valet supervisor said he was wondering where the man had parked his motorcycle, so he left his covered booth to walk down the driveway to see.

On the way, he talked to a security officer, then continued looking for the motorcycle, which he found parked in a "cubbyhole" area. He described the motorcycle as a black Suzuki GSSR with no license plate.

Pappas said he asked the security guard to call her supervisor to try to find the man to tell him he needed to move the motorcycle.

About that time, the security officer started yelling that "pit three" in the casino had been robbed. Pappas said he started walking back toward his booth when the man wearing the motorcycle helmet came running out of the door.

Pappas said he tried to put himself in between the man and the motorcycle to stop him.

"I told him, 'Don't do it,'" Pappas said.

But the man pointed a gun toward his face and told him "move," Pappas said. He said he got out of the man's way and the man got on the motorcycle, drove to Flamingo Road and headed west.

Pappas said he didn't know what kind of a gun it was, but said the part he saw pointed at him was square, with a barrel in the middle.

Pappas said the man was wearing a black, shiny "poofy" jacket, dark pants and had gloves on.

Under cross examination, Pappas said he didn't get a clear look at the man's face and admitted he didn't know if the motorcyclist was male or female. He also admitted that he wasn't able to tell whether the gun was real or was a play gun because it was never fired.

However, Pappas later said that it was a man's deep voice that told him to "move."

Lillian Graczyk, a security officer, also said she watched the man with the motorcycle helmet walk into the Bellagio, then talked with Pappas about him.

Graczyk said they both wondered where he had parked the motorcycle and once Pappas found it, she started to call her supervisor. She said that's when she got the call that the casino had been robbed.

Shortly after that, she said the motorcyclist ran by her, pointing a gun at her. Graczyk said she was scared because she had information that the man had a gun. She said he had something in his hand, but she didn't know what it was. She doesn't carry a firearm as part of her job.

Another Bellagio employee, Dan Crosby, 72, testified he was working as the "box man," supervising craps Table 3 in Pit 3 inside the casino when the man with the motorcycle helmet arrived.

Crosby said the motorcyclist came in with a gun, pushed the dealer out of the way, then shoved Crosby and said "move." The employees working at the table got down on the ground and started crawling away, Crosby said.

The motorcyclist started digging chips out of the rack and putting them in a pouch, Crosby said. He said the man reached into the center of the rack first and began getting the cranberry-colored $25,000 chips first, then took other chips worth varying amounts that ranged from $5,000 to $100.

Crosby said there were as many as $2 million in chips in the rack.

An undercover police officer then took the witness stand. The officer, who said he had been with the police force for 15 years, said he had been in five meetings with Carleo, with the last one resulting in his arrest.

The first meeting took place about 8 or 9 p.. Jan. 28 at a restaurant in the Venetian hotel-casino, where Carleo was introduced to him by an informant.

At that meeting, Carleo indicated that he had six chips that he had to sell and that he didn't want to get into any trouble, the officer said.

The officer told him that he had players who would be able to move the chips and they exchanged phone numbers, the officer said. The officer said he asked Carleo if they had been stolen and Carleo told him that they could have been.

Two days later, they met again at a restaurant at the Bellagio, the officer said. The informant was also at that meeting, the officer said.

At that meeting, Carleo presented a $25,000 pink chip and the officer put $10,000 in a wine menu and handed it to Carleo across the table. The officer said Carleo took the money.

At that time, Carleo told the officer that he had recently lost $300,000 in gambling and was taking prescription pain medication, Oxycontin, and had suicidal thoughts.

The officer also said Carleo told him he had recently lost $70,000 gambling on New Year's Eve and had been robbed of $20,000 by a prostitute.

A short time later, the officer said that the informant handed him another $25,000 chip that came from Carleo and asked for $7,000 for that chip.

The next meeting took place after 10 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Bellagio's sports book, the officer said. The informant and a female undercover police officer were also at the meeting, he said.

The officer said at that time, he went into the restroom and gave Carleo $7,000 for the second $25,000 chip.

The officer said that Carleo told him that his mother was coming into town and that he wanted to sell four more of the chips for $10,000 each.

At that time, the officer said he told Carleo that he was forming a group that Carleo might want to join. The officer said he told Carleo, "when you work for me, you can rob this place blind." The officer said Carleo's response was "I already did."

Carleo then had the informant put the four chips on the floor of a restroom stall and had the officer go inside to get them. However, the officer said those chips were gone when he entered.

He said when he told Carleo they weren't there, Carleo got very agitated and went into the restroom and looked for them himself. The officer said that they had been recovered by Bellagio security, but the officer later contacted Carleo and told him he had been able to find them.

The officer said their next meeting was at another restaurant on Feb. 1. About that time, Carleo told the officer that he had recently had an argument with his father and that his father had reduced his allowance down to $150 a week.

After the dinner Carleo went upstairs, then returned with more chips that he said were stolen from the Bellagio, the officer said. He told the officer that he could get into a lot of trouble for selling him the chips and could be put away into prison for years.

"He said the chips were taken from the Bellagio robbery," the officer said. "He stated that the person that robbed it from the north side of the valet walked into the casino, went into the pit area, grabbed some chips and ran out. He stated have you ever been here at 4 in the morning. I said no. He said the place is completely dead. And I said well doesn't security have guns? He said no, it was perfect."

The officer said Carleo told him they couldn't get him for the robbery, "the most they could get me for was possession of stolen property."

The officer said he told Carleo that with the Super Bowl weekend coming up, he would be able to be able to sell at least five of the $25,000 chips. The officer said at that time, he owed Carleo $35,000 for the other chips.

The officer said they had arranged a signal that Carleo would text him with a number "1" to bring $85,000 to the next meeting and "2" to bring $100,000.

He said the next meeting was planned so that Carleo could be arrested at some point.

The officer said he received a text message with the number "2" on it from Carleo, indicating he should bring $100,000 to their Feb. 2 meeting.

The officer said he and the informant met with Carleo about 8:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at the sports book.

The officer said he and Carleo then went in the restroom, where he asked Carleo how many chips he had brought to sell. Carleo responded that he had brought seven of the pink $25,000 Bellagio chips.

"He handed me one and said this one's on me, you don't need to pay anything for it, just take it," the officer said. The officer said Carleo then asked for the $35,000 that the officer owed him from the past deals.

The officer then asked Carleo how many chips he had left and he said Carleo responded he would have approximately 20 after the day's deal was over.

The officer said he then went into the bathroom stall to get the chips that Carleo had left there. The officer said that's when he signaled to other officers to come arrest Carleo.

All together, the officer said he purchased a total of seven chips from Carleo in their transaction. He said after officers arrested Carleo, they also got another seven chips. The pink chips were valued at $350,000, he said.

The officer said he had a recorder with him during the meetings. However, he said the audio was not very clear and that the recording was in the process of being transcribed.

The officer also said that Carleo told him that his father wasn't happy with the lifestyle he had been leading and wanted him to make a change. However, the officer said Carleo never indicated at anytime that his father, the judge, knew anything about the robbery and was referring to dropping out of school and stopping his drug use.

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