Las Vegas police seek suspects in foiled casino heist

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2012 1:35 PM
Las Vegas police seek suspects in foiled casino heist

By Timothy Pratt

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Las Vegas police were seeking two men on Tuesday over a foiled weekend heist in which robbers tried to grab $115,000 in casino chips from a blackjack table, spraying the dealer with a substance akin to pepper spray.

Police said two men approached a blackjack table at the Bellagio Hotel late on Saturday, and one of them sprayed a guest and a card dealer, according to the arrest report. One of the pair grabbed 23 chips valued at $5,000 each and tried to flee.

Hotel employees stopped one of the men, identified as Michael Belton, 24, of California. He was arrested and was being held on $60,000 bail, police said.

The other man got away. Police were looking for him and another suspect identified as Carlos Rodriguez, 43, who was to meet the two at the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel, the arrest report said.

Belton, who wore sunglasses and a black wig during the attempted heist, told police he got involved in the plot after answering an ad Rodriguez posted on the Craigslist website seeking help repossessing cars, the arrest report said.

Rodriguez told Belton he planned to rob the Bellagio, cash in the chips and split the proceeds. Belton is unemployed and said he needed money to help his ill grandparents.

Belton dropped the chips when employees grabbed him. He has been charged with two counts of robbery, one count of burglary and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed on Monday.

The attempted robbery was at least the third at the Bellagio since 2000. In a high-profile attempt in 2010, Anthony Carleo, 29, the so-called Biker Bandit, tried to steal $1.5 million in casino chips. He confessed and has been sentenced to nine to 27 years in prison.

Bellagio representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)