POSTED: 4:31 a.m. HST, May 13, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:16 a.m. HST, May 13, 2011
LAS VEGAS >> The 29-year-old man accused in the armed heist of $1.5 million in casino chips from the posh Bellagio resort was charged Thursday in an earlier casino robbery that netted nearly $19,000 in cash.
Anthony Carleo was re-booked in county jail in Las Vegas on suspicion of robbing the Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Dec. 9, police said.
The disguise, methods and equipment of the heist in northwest Las Vegas all resembled the Bellagio heist on the Las Vegas Strip five days later, an arrest report said.
Surveillance video in both robberies showed a person pointing a gun while masked with a motorcycle helmet. In both robberies, the burglar arrived and escaped on a motorcycle, police said.
Carleo's lawyer William Terry didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment from The Associated Press.
Carleo has been in jail since his arrest Feb. 2. He has pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges in the Bellagio theft, in which he is accused of nabbing casino chips worth $10,000 to $25,000 each from a craps table. A judge last month set a trial date for Jan. 10 next year.
In the Suncoast robbery, police said the suspect rode up to the casino on a motorcycle, then walked into the poker room and toward the cashier. After pointing a gun at a casino employee, the burglar stuffed money from the cash drawer into a backpack before escaping.
Police said in an arrest report released Thursday that they connected Carleo to the Suncoast robbery through hotel, casino and cellphone records, witness descriptions of the gun and backpack used in the robbery and a police interview with a Colorado woman who said she knew about Carleo committing both robberies but was threatened by him.
Carleo searched for "tips for robbing someone" on his computer three days before the heist, and used his cellphone near the Suncoast before and after the robbery, the arrest report said.
After the Bellagio heist, Carleo spent the next two months partying, gambling big at the Bellagio and trying to figure out what to do with the chips. Casino chips are like gifts cards and must be redeemed at a cashier to have any value.
Carleo eventually tried to sell the chips to a casual poker player he connected with on a popular Web forum for card players, police said. The poker fan went to the FBI after trading phone calls and emails with Carleo.