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Trial of Metro officer suspected of casino heists goes to jury

Updated July 13, 2023 - 7:13 pm

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Friday to determine if a Metropolitan Police Department officer is responsible for stealing more than $164,000 in cash in three casino heists.

During closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors argued that Caleb Rogers, who was known for being low on money because of a gambling addiction, decided to rob the Red Rock Resort in November 2021 with the help of his brother, and then robbed the Aliante Hotel and the Rio by himself in the following months. At the Rio, Rogers was caught and arrested after threatening security guards with his police-issued revolver.

But Rogers’ defense attorney argued that the evidence tying Rogers to the Red Rock Resort and Aliante robberies was “coincidental” and hinged on the testimony of his brother, who was granted immunity from prosecution and admitted on the witness stand Thursday to being the getaway driver in the first robbery.

Rogers, 35, was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2022 on three counts of interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin Friday morning after the weeklong trial, at which jurors heard testimony from casino employees, Metro detectives and Caleb Rogers’ brother, Josiah Rogers.

At the time of his arrest, Caleb Rogers was a seven-year veteran of Metro who was assigned to the Bolden area command’s community policing division. He has been “relieved of duty without police powers,” a Metro spokesperson said in an emailed statement Monday.

Caleb Rogers was arrested after stealing more than $78,000 from the Rio on Feb. 27, 2022. Prosecutors said he jumped over the counter at the sportsbook, threatened two employees and ran out with cash stuffed inside his jacket. Outside the hotel, he was tackled by security guards who struggled over the gun he attempted to pull out of its holster, prosecutors said.

Caleb Rogers was being groomed to be a detective within Metro, but he also owed gambling debts and struggled to make ends meet, prosecutor David Kiebler argued Thursday. After his arrest at the Rio, investigators began looking into Caleb Rogers’ ties to the Red Rock Resort and Aliante Hotel robberies, including a distinctive orange truck used during the Red Rock robbery that matched the description of his brother’s car.

Josiah Rogers testified Thursday that he lied to FBI agents on two occasions. He said he wanted to protect his brother, himself and the new life he started after he moved to Ohio in the days following the Red Rock Resort robbery.

But once Josiah Rogers was subpoenaed, he turned on his brother, agreeing to testify against the man with whom he shared a room throughout his childhood and whom he lived with for six months in Las Vegas. Josiah Rogers testified that he helped plan some details of the Red Rock Resort robbery, and drove his brother to the casino on Nov. 12, 2021. Hours after his brother took more than $73,000 from the casino, Josiah Rogers admitted to hiring a tow truck to pick up his vehicle and take it to be scrapped at a junkyard.

Josiah Rogers left Las Vegas days later with $30,000, which he said he quickly burned through. He admitted that after moving to Ohio, he messaged his brother about possibly committing another casino robbery, but his brother told him “not to worry about it,” and not to come back to Las Vegas.

Josiah Rogers testified that he wasn’t aware of the Aliante Hotel robbery and only knew about the Rio robbery after his brother was arrested.

Surveillance footage of the robber at the Aliante Hotel showed the suspect wearing all dark clothes, a hat and a surgical mask. Josiah Rogers said that although he could not be entirely certain the suspect was his brother, he recognized Caleb Rogers’ walk and mannerisms from growing up with him. Caleb Rogers’ fellow police officer and best friend had also testified to recognizing the suspect in the surveillance footage, prosecutors said.

Kiebler said the suspect in all three robberies wore similar disguises, had the same height and build, and had a similar gait when he walked or ran.

“Members of the jury, this is the same MO (modus operandi) because this is the same person,” Kiebler said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors also linked Caleb Rogers to the robbery of more than $11,000 at the Aliante hotel through his white Volkswagen Jetta, which was found abandoned near Caleb Rogers’ apartment shortly after the robbery.

But Richard Pocker, Caleb Rogers’ defense attorney, argued that prosecutors did not do enough to prove his client was behind all three robberies. Instead, he argued it made more sense that Josiah Rogers, who he said also was known for being strapped for cash, was behind the robbery at the Red Rock Resort. He argued that Josiah Rogers, who cannot be prosecuted unless he lies on the stand, had a motive to pin all of the crimes on his brother.

“The only evidence that links Caleb Rogers to the Red Rock incident is all out of the mouth of Josiah Rogers,” Pocker said.

Josiah Rogers testified that he was nervous during previous interviews when he lied to federal agents, and that he had tried to tell investigators enough of the truth to prevent implicating himself.

“I made a lot of missteps in a lot of my conversations with the FBI,” he said.

Josiah Rogers’ gaze did not linger on his brother when he left the courtroom.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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