POSTED: 8:40 a.m. HST, Aug 25, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 9:27 p.m. HST, Aug 25, 2011
LAS VEGAS >> A motorcycle-helmeted bandit who was previously sentenced to three to 11 years in prison for a gunpoint holdup at the posh Bellagio casino was handed an additional six to 16 years on Thursday for another armed robbery at a separate Las Vegas casino.
Anthony Michael Carleo, 30, apologized and pleaded for leniency. saying he was ashamed but “not a lost cause.”
Carleo’s lawyer, William Terry, blamed the twin armed robberies on Carleo’s addictions to drugs and gambling. He emphasized that Carleo strayed even though he had support from friends and family members, including his father, a former Las Vegas Municipal Court judge.
Clark County District Court Judge Michael Villani wasn’t convinced.
He rejected a state sentencing report recommendation for a softer sentence, telling Carleo the planning and sophistication of the armed robberies Dec. 9 at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino in northwest Las Vegas and Dec. 14 at the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip merited the combined nine-to-27 year sentence.
“This is not the same as grabbing a purse from someone in a parking lot,” the judge said. “It is unfortunate that you chose this route, sir.”
Casino security images in both cases showed the robber wearing a helmet and waving a handgun. No shots were fired and no one was injured. Authorities said Carleo made off with almost $19,000 in cash from the Suncoast and more than $1.5 million in chips from the Bellagio. He sped away both times on a motorcycle.
Prosecutor Chris Owens said Thursday that some $775,000 in casino chips were recovered following Carleo’s arrest. He asked the judge to order Carleo to repay the balance, about $793,000.
Terry countered that the chips were worthless because they weren’t redeemed. Carleo was arrested Feb. 2 at the Bellagio trying to sell several $25,000 chips to an undercover police officer
“It’s one thing to take something,” the defense lawyer said. “It’s another thing to get rid of it.”
Villani ordered Carleo to reimburse the Suncoast for the money taken. He declined to set a restitution figure in the Bellagio case, leaving that for Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt, who sentenced Carleo on Tuesday in that case.
The stunningly large denominations of the chips taken from the Bellagio — ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 — drew intense media interest and comparisons to Hollywood movies such as “Ocean’s Eleven.”
Terry said later that he was “greatly disappointed” by the sentence.
Carleo’s father, George Assad, was ousted by voters in June from the bench seat he had held since 2002. In his only public comment on the case, following Carleo’s arrest, he described himself and his family as devastated and heartbroken. Assad added that as a prosecutor and a judge, “I have always felt people who break the law need to be held accountable.”
Owens noted the difference between the sentences meted out by Leavitt on Tuesday and Villani on Thursday. The prosecutor declared the state satisfied that Carleo received consecutive sentences.
“This judge had the advantage of seeing the whole picture, and he had the last word,” Owens said.