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Rio robbery accomplice takes plea, gets prison time

The accused getaway driver in a brazen 2011 armed robbery of a Pai Gow table at the Rio will spend at least a couple more years behind bars.

Judge Jerry Tao on Thursday sentenced Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, 64, to two to six years in prison for his role in the robbery of $33,200 in gaming chips.

Yamaguchi, who was given credit for the 307 days he’s already been locked up, also must pay $15,000 in restitution to the Rio.

He was one of three men charged in the robbery. Edward Land, the 43-year-old who pleaded guilty in March to robbery and conspiracy charges, is set to be sentenced next week. Las Vegas police have yet to catch the suspected gunman, Steven Gao, who they believe is in China.

Investigators quickly zeroed in on Gao as the gunman in the robbery. He had a gambling problem and was trying to get money to pay a $15,000 debt to Land, they said. On the day of the robbery, Land drove Gao to the casino believing Gao was going to get his money, according to Land’s lawyer, Louis Schneider.

But Land didn’t know it was going to be a robbery, Schneider said.

When they arrived, Gao took out a revolver and a mask. Land fled, Schneider said.

Yamaguchi was accused of being the getaway driver, using his cab to take Gao from the Rio to Terrible’s Casino, where he met Land.

Police found an unloaded revolver and $1,000 in chips in Yamaguchi’s cab after the robbery. In March, he pleaded guilty via an Alford plea to robbery and conspiracy. The plea means he did not admit guilt but agreed that prosecutors could prove their case.

At Land’s home, near Spring Mountain Road and Durango Drive, investigators recovered $17,000 in Rio chips, a wig and a shoulder bag possibly used by Gao in the robbery.

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