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Aria manager accused of stealing more than $773K from Strip hotel

Suddenly Brandon Rashaad Johnson was buying expensive things, according to an arrest report.

A co-worker asked how Johnson, a hotel operations manager at the Aria, was able to afford it all. Johnson said he had been working as a private chef for rich clients, the co-worker said in an interview with police.

The co-worker, whose name was redacted from the report released to the Review-Journal, had never seen Johnson cook. Johnson had never mentioned being a chef. Curious, the co-worker said he looked into Johnson’s work transactions and discovered something unusual.

Now, Johnson faces multiple counts of theft and money laundering after the Metropolitan Police Department said he stole over $773,000 from the Aria between July 2022 and July 2023.

According to the Metro arrest report, Johnson issued 209 fraudulent refunds back to a single Chase debit card, with the money going into a checking account. Johnson is alleged to have started out slowly, processing two fraudulent refunds in July 2022 and gradually ramping up that total this year to 23 in March and 37 in July.

Metro investigators looked into Johnson’s bank accounts. Police allege he was moving money back and forth between several different Chase accounts.

“It is common for criminals to move money between accounts to make the fraudulent funds harder to track and also make the stolen money appear legitimate,” a police investigator wrote in Johnson’s arrest report.

Johnson was spending “large amounts of money” at luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton and Versace. There were expensive dinners, spa visits, private jet flights and more, police said.

Meanwhile, the co-worker said he looked at Johnson’s work transactions and notified Aria’s senior manager of guest services, who, according to the co-worker, told him to gather all of the evidence and to present it to the director of hotel operations.

The co-worker told police his “employment was terminated” by Aria and MGM Resorts.

Because of the redactions in the arrest report, it was difficult to decipher the details of the investigation.

Asked about the allegations against Johnson, and the claims made by the co-worker in the arrest report, Brian Ahern, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International, which operates the Aria, had no comment Thursday.

While MGM was doing its own investigation in late July, Johnson quit his job. He then surrendered to police on Sept. 1.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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