“Bellagio Bandit” Sentenced To 3-11 Years In Plea Deal


Ending a saga that began late last year, the “Bellagio Bandit” was sentenced to three to eleven years in prison by a Las Vegas court yesterday.

Appearing before Judge Michelle Leavitt in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas Tuesday morning, Anthony Michael Carleo was apologetic as Judge Leavitt heard the results of a plea deal between Carleo and prosecutors. “I’m very sorry for everything I’ve done. I owe my mother and my father an apology,” Carleo told the judge, according to Las Vegas Sun reporter Dave Toplikar. Carleo’s father, former Las Vegas Municipal Court judge George Assad, was present for the proceedings.

Originally charged with seven felony counts stemming from the December 2010 heist at the Bellagio, Carleo’s attorney, William Terry, was able to negotiate a deal with prosecutors that reduced the list of charges to one count of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and assault with the use of a deadly weapon. Terry argued for a lesser sentence due to Carleo’s alleged dependence on drugs, alcohol and gambling that drove him to commit the crime. Las Vegas Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens argued for a heavy sentence due to the use of a deadly weapon in committing the crime and the threats of violence that Carleo used against employees and players at the Bellagio while committing the robbery.

Judge Leavitt sentenced Carleo to two to seven years for the robbery charge and one to four years for the use of a deadly weapon in committing the crime. Still up for discussion is a fine of $1.5 million instituted along with the jail time, which Terry believes is inappropriate because the chips stolen from the Bellagio have either been recovered or will not be accepted by the Bellagio due to a chip change. Judge Leavitt tabled that argument for a future date.

Also brought out during sentencing discussions was the factor that Carleo was looking to make another score on a popular Vegas casino. After Carleo was arrested in the Bellagio case, investigators found plans to hit Caesars Palace in the same manner as the Bellagio robbery. “It wasn’t that he did it and felt remorseful about it. He just went right into the next planning, went right into the next crime,” the Las Vegas Sun reports Owens as stating regarding the Caesars threat during sentencing.

The brazen robbery of the Bellagio in December 2010 stunned the casino industry. In the early morning hours of December 14, a man in an all-black motorcycle outfit and wearing a full face helmet entered the Bellagio and headed to the high stakes craps pits. Once there, he displayed a gun and demanded the chips on the table, which ranged from $25 to $25,000. After getting the chips, the thief quickly vacated the Bellagio to a waiting motorcycle and sped away from the casino.

Shockingly, Carleo used his stolen wealth to become a high roller at the poker tables of the Bellagio. In the arrest report, the interaction between a poker dealer and Carleo was detailed in which Carleo all but admitted committing the robbery. According to the dealer in the arrest report, Carleo said, “Man, how easy would it be to rob a casino?” After the dealer replied, “Dude, you watch ‘Ocean’s 11’ too much. This is real life and that s**t doesn’t happen,” Carleo allegedly responded, “All you need is a black mask and a motorcycle, and I have a motorcycle.

In January, the poker community stepped up after Carleo attempted to sell off some of the larger denomination chips that were stolen from the Bellagio. On the Two Plus Two message boards, Carleo – using the moniker “Oceanspray25” derived from the cranberry color of the Bellagio chip and their $25,000 value – attempted to sell those chips to members for $10,000. The contacted members on 2+2 did not bite on the deal and instead reported the incident to Las Vegas Police.

In late January, Vegas police set up a sting operation to buy the Bellagio chips from Carleo. After buying several of the chips, the police arrested Carleo on February 2 and, after a search of his girlfriend’s apartment, found more Bellagio chips in different denominations totaling $900,000.

Carleo is not out of the woods quite yet. He is still facing sentencing tomorrow for what police and prosecutors believe was a “dry run” robbery on December 9 at the Suncoast Casino. Using the same modus operandi as the Bellagio robbery, Carleo absconded with $18,945 from the cashier’s cage at the poker room. Prosecutors are looking for sentencing in that case to run consecutively (after the Bellagio time) rather than concurrently (at the same time).

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Earl Burton
Earl Burton is a veteran journalist in the poker industry, having covered the game since 2004. He has played the game much longer, however, starting out playing in family games at a very early age. He has covered tournaments across the United States, including the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and various charitable events. Earl’s background includes writing for some of the top poker news sites in the industry as well as other poker media outlets that include Poker Player Newspaper and Canadian Poker Player Magazine. Earl keeps an unblinking eye on the poker world, offering coverage of news from the industry, tournament action, player interviews, strategy and his opinions on the game. Whenever possible, Earl will also step to the tables to demonstrate that there’s more than just writing talent behind his poker game!


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