Vegas judge's son pleads guilty in Bellagio heist
LAS VEGAS – The son of a Las Vegas judge pleaded guilty Tuesday to being the motorcycle helmet-wearing bandit who was videotaped waving a gun as he made off in December with $1.5 million in casino chips from the posh Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Anthony Michael Carleo, 29, apologized and told a Nevada judge he was "very foolish" for scooping chips from the craps table and pointing a handgun at a valet before jumping on a motorcycle and speeding away before dawn Dec. 14. No shots were fired.
Carleo pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon charges that prosecutor Chris Owens said could get him three to 36 years in state prison.
Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt scheduled sentencing Aug. 23.
Carleo is also due to plead guilty Thursday to similar charges in a separate case stemming from a Dec. 9 robbery at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino in northwest Las Vegas. Owens told reporters those charges could carry additional prison time.
As part of the plea deal in the two cases, prosecutors dropped several other assault, burglary and weapon charges and agreed not to seek additional drug and weapon charges that police investigated.
Carleo, the son of Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad, is being held at the Clark County jail on $1 million bail.
Assad was ousted by voters this month from the bench seat he has held since 2002. He hasn't commented about the case since issuing a public statement following Carleo's arrest Feb. 2 at the Bellagio. Police said Carleo was apprehended after trying to sell several $25,000 chips to an undercover Las Vegas police officer.
Assad described himself and his family at the time as "devastated and heartbroken," and added that as a prosecutor and a judge, "I have always felt people who break the law need to be held accountable."
Police say the Suncoast robbery, which netted almost $19,000 in cash, played out like a dress-rehearsal for the Bellagio robbery just five days later. In both cases, a motorcycle-riding bandit thwarted video surveillance by keeping his helmet on as he entered. He displayed a gun and left the gambling floor in seconds. No one was injured in either case.
The eye-popping denominations of the of Bellagio chips — ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each — drew intense media interest and comparisons to Hollywood movies like "Ocean's Eleven."
But from the start, experts said the culprit might have trouble cashing the loot.
After the Bellagio holdup, Carleo spent two months partying, gambling big at the posh casino, and trying to figure out what to do with the high-denomination chips dubbed "cranberries" because of their color, police said. He eventually approached a casual poker player on a popular Web forum and sent photos signed "Biker Bandit" depicting two $25,000 Bellagio chips.
Owens has said some $375,000 in Bellagio chips is still missing.