Suspect’s past revisited

A decade ago, Christiano DeCarlo was described as the “ultimate leader” of a mob-backed plot to take over the outcall entertainment industry in Las Vegas through extortion.

On Friday, long after completing a four-year prison term for his role in the conspiracy, the former owner of an outcall service returned to federal court as a defendant in another criminal case. This time, DeCarlo is accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend and then shooting himself in the chest after a seven-hour standoff with Las Vegas police.

“It’s significant in this case to look at his prior criminal history,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Johnson told the judge at Friday’s hearing.

Johnson prosecuted DeCarlo and five co-defendants, including a reputed torture expert from Florida, years ago.

DeCarlo was just 29 in February 2000 when U.S. District Judge Philip Pro sentenced him for conspiring to interfere with commerce by threats or violence. At the sentencing hearing, Johnson accused DeCarlo of initiating the criminal conduct.

“The ultimate leader, the ultimate organizer, was the one that put this all together: the defendant, Mr. DeCarlo,” Johnson said at the time.

Pro agreed with the prosecutor’s assessment, saying DeCarlo “set the ball in motion” when he contacted Mario Stefano, whom authorities had described as an associate of New York’s Gambino crime family, for help in the matter.

On Friday, Johnson successfully argued that U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leavitt should keep DeCarlo behind bars while the defendant’s new federal case proceeds through the system. The prosecutor said DeCarlo is a flight risk and poses a danger to the community.

“Mr. DeCarlo has a fairly significant violent background,” Johnson told the judge.

After recounting details of the earlier conspiracy case, the prosecutor said he has information about an incident involving DeCarlo that occurred around 2006 or 2007.

Johnson said DeCarlo told an undercover agent he shot out the tires of a man’s vehicle in Sandy Valley during the incident and forced the man to his knees at gunpoint. The victim gave a similar account to the agent, Johnson said.

The prosecutor did not say why an undercover agent was talking with DeCarlo or the other man.

A federal grand jury indicted DeCarlo a month ago on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a felony, in connection with an April 23 incident outside his ex-girlfriend’s home. He pleaded not guilty Friday.

According to police reports, the couple had dated for about five years, but the woman asked DeCarlo about two months earlier to move out of the residence, which they shared with her parents.

She told police her issues with DeCarlo began to flare in July 2008, “when a real estate transaction DeCarlo was working on in Sandy Valley unraveled.”

“Since that time, DeCarlo refused to work and just wanted to lay around the house all day,” the woman reported.

She obtained a temporary protective order against DeCarlo after an April 5 incident in which someone caused $6,000 damage to the paint on her vehicle.

According to a police report, DeCarlo then began stalking the woman at home and at work, calling her and sending her text messages so often that she had to change her cell phone number. When she changed her number, he began to send her e-mails via computer.

The tone of the messages ranged from apologetic to angry, according to the report, and they often contained threats of suicide.

Around 6 p.m. on April 23, the ex-girlfriend called police after she saw DeCarlo walking in front of her home. When officers responded, according to the police report, they found DeCarlo with a pistol pointed at his throat.

Police negotiators arrived, and a standoff ensued for the next several hours. Around 1:15 a.m., according to the police report, DeCarlo shot himself in the chest.

According to the report, police interviewed DeCarlo on April 26 at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, and he told them he had been stalking his ex-girlfriend for two days by hiding in a large clay vase outside her home.

“DeCarlo said he had the gun for a couple of years and normally kept it at his property in Sandy Valley,” the report states.

According to the document, DeCarlo also admitted to having a narcotics addiction in the past but said he had been clean for about two years.

Clark County prosecutors have charged DeCarlo, 38, with four felony counts, including aggravated stalking and resisting a public officer. A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas Justice Court.

According to records in the earlier conspiracy case, DeCarlo approached Stefano for help in seeking restitution “for what DeCarlo believed was the theft of phone calls from his outcall business.”

DeCarlo paid the other conspirators, obtained rooms for them while they were in Las Vegas and provided them with firearms, according to the records.

During his prosecution of the case, Johnson said DeCarlo had presented no evidence to support his claim that competitors were diverting phone calls away from his business, called Men of Las Vegas.

Outcall services send male and female dancers to customers, usually in hotel rooms. Law enforcement officials have long considered the businesses a front for prostitution and other crimes.

DeCarlo’s mental competency was questioned in 1999 after he attempted suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills at the North Las Vegas Detention Center. He later was found competent to assist in his defense.

All six defendants in the case, including reputed torture expert Vincent Congiusti, accepted plea agreements. The case stemmed from a massive undercover investigation.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site, DeCarlo was released in 2002, Stefano was released in 2004, and Congiusti has died.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at or 702-384-8710.

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