Attorneys for Edward Land, one of three men accused in the armed robbery of $33,200 in gaming chips from the Rio last week, proclaimed the 41-year-old's innocence Monday.
Land "did not condone and emphatically denies participation in the robbery," according to a statement released by defense attorneys Anthony Wright and Louis Schneider.
Land, a businessman who is described by his attorneys as a leader in the local Chinese community, was owed $15,000 by Steven Gao, the man authorities believe robbed the Rio at gunpoint early Thursday while wearing a disguise.
Gao reportedly has a gambling problem, according to Las Vegas police, and was trying to repay his debt to Land after the robbery.
Detectives allege Land was aware that Gao got the chips through some illegal activity, possibly by robbing a casino.
According to the police report, Land told detectives that Gao told him, " 'I robbed a casino, please help me so you get your money back.' But Land later changed his story to 'did you rob a casino' and Gao's response was that he (Land) 'didn't wanna know.' "
During a search of Land's home, near Spring Mountain Road and Durango Drive, police recovered $17,000 in Rio chips, along with a wig and a shoulder bag allegedly used by Gao in the robbery.
According to the police report, Land knew he was wrong to be involved in the situation but wanted his money back.
According to his attorneys' statement, Land cooperated with police because he "was an innocent victim of Gao and believed the police would understand. ... Land maintains his innocence and emphatically denies any involvement."
So far, Gao has eluded police. Authorities said they think he may have fled to California.
Both Land and a second defendant, veteran cabdriver Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, 61, remained locked up in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.
They are scheduled to appear today in Las Vegas Justice Court, where Land's attorneys plan to ask for a reasonable bail amount.
Land and Yamaguchi are charged with armed robbery, conspiracy and burglary with use of a deadly weapon.
Yamaguchi is accused of being the getaway driver who drove Gao away from the Rio in his own cab and dropped him off at Terrible's Casino to meet Land.
Surveillance recordings at the casino and in the cab helped police track down Yamaguchi and crack the case.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.