2 arrested in Vegas casino heist of $33K in chips
Friday, February 25, 2011
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police searched Friday for a man suspected of donning a fedora, fake mustache and sunglasses in a stickup that netted more than $33,000 in chips from a Las Vegas casino.
It was the second grab-and-run heist in Sin City in two months. In December, a bandit snatched $1.5 million in chips from a craps table at the Bellagio casino then sped away on a motorcycle.
Police do not believe the holdups were connected or were linked to organized crime.
Police said Steven Gao, 45, went to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Thursday and grabbed the chips from a pai gow poker table. He also pointed a gun at a card dealer who tried to stop him before he escaped in a cab, robbery Lt. Ray Steiber said.
Police arrested cab driver Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, 61, within hours of the robbery.
“He had knowledge of what was to occur,” Steiber said.
Yamaguchi and Gao worked together at the same taxi company, according to an arrest report.
Also taken into custody was Edward Land, 41, who police said met Gao at another casino after the robbery and received $17,000 in stolen chips.
Land told police Gao owed him $15,000 and robbed the casino as a way to pay back the debt, the report said.
Land told detectives he drove Gao to the Rio on the day of the heist and became suspicious when Gao donned a fake mustache and wig.
“Land said he knew Gao was ’going to do something,’” the report said. “Land said he told Gao that he was ’crazy,’ and Gao told him, ’Don’t worry about it.’”
Land said he later drove Gao to catch a bus to California.
Authorities recovered nearly $18,000 in Rio chips — nearly $17,000 from Land’s home and $1,000 from Yamaguchi’s cab — plus a silver revolver and wig suspected to have been used in the robbery, according to the arrest report.
Yamaguchi and Land were being held in the Clark County jail for investigation of robbery, burglary and conspiracy. Bail for each was set at $25,000.
The robbery came after the stickup at the Bellagio hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Police have arrested Anthony Carleo, 29, the son of a Las Vegas judge, in connection with that robbery. He has not yet entered a plea and remained in Clark County jail with bail set at $1 million.
The Rio is owned by Caesars Entertainment, the world’s largest gambling company by revenue, and is home to the annual World Series of Poker.
The Bellagio robbery involved chips mostly worth $25,000 — a denomination unusual for most gamblers to possess. Chips worth $1,000 or less are far more common in Nevada casinos, making them tougher to track.