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Accused Bellagio bandit pleads not guilty in Vegas

  • AP
    Anthony M. Carleo waits for court to begin Monday

LAS VEGAS >> The 29-year-old son of a Las Vegas judge pleaded not guilty Thursday to seven felony charges in the daring armed theft of $1.5 million worth of casino chips from the posh Bellagio resort in Las Vegas.

A state court judge set a Jan. 10, 2012, trial date for Anthony Carleo on armed robbery, assault, burglary and weapon charges. He could face decades in prison if convicted.

Carleo’s lawyer, William Terry, declined comment outside the courtroom after the brief hearing.

Before accepting Carleo’s plea, Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt disclosed that her brother is a craps dealer at the Bellagio.

Carleo is accused of nabbing the chips from a craps table in the early morning hours of Dec. 14.

Leavitt said her brother wasn’t working the night of the Dec. 14 heist.

"I have not spoken to him at all about this case directly," Leavitt said.

Leavitt said she also has connections with Carleo’s father, Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad. Assad is in a general election race to keep his post, and Leavitt said lawyers in her family have publicly and privately supported him. The election is in June.

"I don’t socialize with him outside the professional relationship," Leavitt said.

Neither Terry nor the prosecutor objected to having her handle the case.

Police say that Carleo, disguised in a motorcycle helmet, brandished a gun as he shoveled chips ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each into a pouch before fleeing on a black Suzuki bike.

Carleo spent the next two months partying, gambling big at the Bellagio, and trying to figure out what to do with the high denomination chips, according to his arrest report.

He eventually tried to hawk them to a casual poker player after connecting with him on a popular Web forum, sending pictures of the chips signed "Biker Bandit," the report said. The poker fan, Matthew Brooks, said he went to the FBI after trading phone calls and emails with Carleo.

Carleo was arrested at the Bellagio Feb. 2.


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