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July 22, 2019

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Carleo admits to Suncoast robbery, could get up to 72 years


Justin M. Bowen

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

Updated Thursday, June 16, 2011 | 3:29 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 "biker bandit" who has admitted he robbed the Suncoast and Bellagio casinos in December, could be looking at some significant prison time when he’s sentenced in late August — from eight to 72 years, his attorney said Thursday.

But it could have been worse, Bill Terry, Carleo’s defense attorney, told reporters Thursday after Carleo admitted his guilt in the Dec. 9 Suncoast robbery.

If Carleo, 29, hadn’t taken the deal offered to him by the Clark County District Attorney’s office and had gone to trial and been convicted of multiple felony counts on each robbery, plus other charges for drug use, “it could have been up to life,” Terry said outside the courtroom where Carleo was arraigned for the Suncoast robbery.

During the arraignment, Carleo pleaded guilty to felony counts in the Suncoast robbery, where he brandished a handgun while robbing $18,945 from a cashier’s cage that was near where a poker tournament had been taking place.

Carleo used the same tactics a few nights later, where he also brandished a handgun, 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. In both robberies, he wore a full-faced motorcycle helmet and got away on a black motorcycle.

Carleo is scheduled to be sentenced for the Bellagio heist at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23 before Judge Michelle Leavitt and for the Suncoast robbery at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 25 before Judge Michael Villani. He is being held in the Clark County Detention Center.

Carleo pleaded guilty Wednesday to the Bellagio heist before Leavitt. He appeared Thursday before Arraignment Hearing Master Melissa De La Garza for the Suncoast robbery, in custody wearing blue jail coveralls.

Under his agreement with prosecutors, Carleo pleaded guilty to robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors have agreed to not file drug or other charges in connection with robbery, De La Garza said.

He also told the judge he was entering the guilty plea of his own free will and said he understood the weapons charge was a non-probationable offense.

De La Garza told him he could be sentenced to a term of not less than two years and not more than 15 years for the robbery, plus a consecutive term for the use of a deadly weapon of one year to 15 years. She told him for the assault charge, he would be sentenced to not less than one year and not more than six years, with the possibility of a fine up to $5,000.

She also told him that sentencing is strictly up to the courts and that prosecutors couldn’t promise him a specific sentence term, leniency or special treatment.

After the arraignment, Terry said Carleo’s demeanor has changed since the robberies because he’s off drugs — he had been taking prescription pain medication and was using cocaine.

“We anticipate that he will go through a form of drug counseling while he’s in the facility. He’ll go through an assessment at the time of sentencing, all that will become known both to the media and to the public and certainly to the sentencing judges,” Terry said.

Terry said Carleo is thinking more clearly these days, now that he is off drugs. Testimony during his preliminary hearing revealed that Carleo was excessively using drugs, “and we’re not disputing that,” Terry said.

Asked how Carleo is holding up, Terry said “if you were facing 72 years, you wouldn’t be holding up that well. The answer is, it’s a relief because now he’s to the point where he accepts the responsibility. He understands that we’re into a whole separate phase, which is to demonstrate that he should not go into jail for a 72-year period of time, to demonstrate his remorsefulness, etc.”

Asked if he thought the judge might be more lenient because Carleo was under the influence of drugs when he committed both of the robberies, Terry said that could be a mitigating circumstance he hoped the courts take into consideration.

“Of course, in this era, drugs are very prevalent,” he said. “We’re not going to use that as an excuse, simply a mitigating circumstance.”

“It is exceedingly unfair if he were to get the maximum sentence,” Terry said. “And I would hope that this case would not be a ‘let’s set an example’ case.”

Asked what led Carleo to take the plea deal rather than stand trial, Terry said “an acceptance of responsibility. And I’m sure the prosecutor would tell you an acceptance of the fact that the state had a fairly provable case.”

Carleo’s father, outgoing Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, has not been in court at his son’s hearings. Terry said he expected Assad to be at the sentencings.

“It’s been at my suggestion that he not make appearances because he recently went through an election,” Terry said. “My feeling was that it would hurt him on his election. And it did.”

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