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Judge’s son pleads guilty to Bellagio heist

Anthony Carleo’s voice was muffled.

The Bellagio Biker Bandit seemed hardly able to get the words out as he described his brazen Dec. 14 heist of the Strip casino to a judge Tuesday.

“I went into the casino. Went to the craps table, took chips and ran out,” Carleo told District Judge Michelle Leavitt.

“Very foolish,” he mumbled.

Carleo said he pointed a gun at a valet worker who tried to block him from escaping on a motorcycle.

He said he was guilty of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for taking $1.5 million in gambling chips from the Bellagio.

With his arms and legs shackled and wearing navy blue county jail scrubs, Carleo added he was sorry for what he had done.

A sentencing hearing was set in the case for Aug. 23 before Leavitt.

Carleo, son of Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, faces three to 36 years in prison in the Bellagio case.

The 29-year-old is expected to plead guilty to the same charges Thursday for robbing the Suncoast of $18,000 on Dec. 9. He will face the same possible sentence in that case.

As part of the negotiated plea, prosecutors will drop eight felony charges against Carleo in the two cases, including three robbery counts.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens said his office will not pursue any other charges associated with the two cases, including potential drug and weapons charges that were being investigated.

Owens said the negotiations toward a plea deal had been going on for months.

Defense attorney Bill Terry declined to comment.

Carleo was arrested Feb. 2 after selling 14 $25,000 chips to an undercover Las Vegas police officer at a cut rate.

At the time of his arrest, Carleo was on a self-described drug and gambling binge that was spiraling out of control.

The undercover officer, Michael Gennaro, testified Feb. 23 that when he asked Carleo to join his crew to rob the Bellagio, Carleo told him, “I already did,” and laughed.

Gennaro testified that during five meetings with Carleo, the officer bought the chips at a cut rate of $7,000 to $10,000 each. Carleo told Gennaro during the meetings that he had gambled away $300,000 at the Bellagio, including $70,000 on New Year’s Eve alone.

Gennaro also testified that Carleo complained about his father, who was upset with the son’s lifestyle of drug use and gambling and had cut his allowance from $1,000 a month to $600.

Carleo was using cocaine and OxyContin, according to the officer’s testimony.

The Bellagio robbery made international headlines and featured security footage of an armed man briskly walking through the casino while wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Many likened the robbery to a real-life version of the film “Ocean’s Eleven” because the movie was shot at the Bellagio and because, for weeks, no arrests were made.

In both the Bellagio and the Suncoast robberies, Carleo used a motorcycle for a quick getaway and wore a helmet to conceal his face, authorities said. No one was hurt in either heist.

Because of the robbery, the Bellagio discontinued its $25,000 cranberry gambling chips, forcing anyone who had them to redeem them before they became worthless.

Authorities have said that a total of $1.2 million in chips and cash have been recovered or accounted for since Carleo’s arrest but that thousands of dollars worth of chips remain missing.

Assad, an 11-year judge who has declined to comment about his son’s case, last week lost his bid for another term on the bench. Some who voted against him said Carleo’s arrest had influenced their decision.

Assad did not return a call Tuesday requesting comment.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@
reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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