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Prosecutor: Carleo could get 3 to 36 years for Bellagio robbery

So called ‘Biker Bandit’ pleads guilty to felony charges

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Justin M. Bowen

Anthony M. Carleo appears in court for a hearing on Friday, April 8, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | 11:08 a.m.

Anthony Carleo, who admitted today he was the so-called "biker bandit" who robbed the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip of some $1.5 million in chips and sped away into the night on a motorcycle, will be heading off to state prison in a few months.

Carleo, whose armed robbery of the casino craps pit area Dec. 14 brought international headlines, stood meekly this morning before District Judge Michelle Leavitt.

He spoke to the judge quietly, admitted his guilt, said what he did was "very foolish" and accepted a plea deal in lieu of prosecutors dropping several of the charges against him.

The judge set his sentencing for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23 in Clark County District Court.

After the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens told reporters he thought Carleo, 29, would potentially go to prison for a minimum of three years, with a maximum penalty of 36 years for the Bellagio robbery. He is being held in the Clark County Detention Center.

As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Carleo also planned to plead guilty Thursday at his arraignment on charges of robbing the Suncoast casino a few days before the Bellagio heist. Those charges could carry additional prison time, Owens said.

The Suncoast robbery took place at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 9, 2010, at a cashier’s cage near a poker tournament. Authorities have surveillance photos of a man wearing a motorcycle helmet robbing the poker room's cashier's cage, getting away with more than $18,000.

A few days later, police linked the Bellagio and the Suncoast robberies because of their similarities. A surveillance camera showed a man walking into the Bellagio about 3:50 a.m. Dec. 14, 2010, wearing a motorcycle helmet. The man went to a craps table and took about $1.5 million in casino chips, then ran out of the casino, got on a motorcycle and drove away, according to witness testimony.

Carleo was arrested in February at the Bellagio after allegedly selling several $25,000 casino chips from the heist to a Metro Police undercover detective. Carleo is the son of outgoing Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, who lost a re-election bid on June 7.

The undercover police officer testified he had five meetings with Carleo arranged by an informant from Jan. 28 through Feb. 2 at the Venetian and Bellagio.

All together, the officer said he purchased a total of seven $25,000 chips from Carleo in their transactions. After officers arrested Carleo, they also got another seven $25,000 chips, the undercover officer said. Those chips were valued at $350,000, he said.

In making his plea, Carleo pleaded guilty to one count of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and assault with the use of a deadly weapon. He originally was charged with seven felony counts in the Bellagio robbery.

As part of his agreement for admitting guilt to both robberies, Carleo will be entering a plea Thursday 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, Owens told the judge.

Bill Terry, Carleo’s attorney, told the judge the state has agreed to file no additional charges as a result of its investigation. Prosecutors had considered filing additional drugs and weapons charges against Carleo as a result of witness statements and evidence they had collected.

Terry told the judge that Carleo already has waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court in connection with the Suncoast robbery.

Leavitt read the charges to Carleo and was assured by him that he was entering the plea voluntarily. She told him that prosecutors could not make any promises to him about how much time he might have to serve.

She told him that for the armed robbery charge of the Bellagio, he was facing between two to 15 years in prison, plus a consecutive term of one year and not more than 15 years. She told him that on the second charge, involving the assault with a deadly weapon, he was facing a state prison term of one to six years as well as a $5,000 fine.

She also told him by entering into the agreement, he was giving up his right to a trial. He had been scheduled to go to trial for the Bellagio robbery in January.

She asked him to tell her what he did. He spoke too softly — too softly for her to hear at first and she asked him to repeat.

“I went into a casino, went to the craps table, took chips and ran out,” Carleo said.

Leavitt made him admit to using a firearm, then asked prosecutors if they were satisfied with his answers.

Owens said Carleo hadn’t said anything yet about the second count, which involved him pointing a gun at the valet who tried to interfere with him leaving after the robbery as he tried to get on his motorcycle.

The judge made Carleo understand that if he admitted to using a gun, that he would not be eligible for probation.

“You understand it’s non-probational, correct?” she asked Carleo. “You understand you are going to go prison?”

Carleo said he did.

After the court proceeding, Owens told reporters it was unusual for casinos to be robbed in Las Vegas.

”But when it does, we take a very serious look at it because of the tourism industry and the potential for harm to numerous individuals,” Owens said. “We’ve had some pretty bad things that have happened. “

Owens said not all of the stolen chips and money have been recovered from the robberies.

”A lot of money is still out there,” he said. Investigators recovered very little of the cash from the Suncoast robbery and only 16 of the $25,000 cranberry-colored Bellagio chips, he said.

”There’s a lot of the cranberry chips still floating around,” Owens said.

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  1. He is a son of a former Judge, right?? He will get less than 5 years. Probably 2. As the corrupt Las Vegas Judicial system goes along. (i.e. Depak Desai judgement)

  2. He should be given a job in the Police motorcycle maintenance facility so as to pay back his room, board, dental and medical care for the duration. He'd probably do a bang up job.

  3. This guy will do the minimum because his father was a judge. I did not vote for Assad after the reports about lawyers judging him the worst of the judges and with this stuff, no way should Assad be judging others.
    Carleo should face more than the minimum, he should do 20 years just for being such a doofus.