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Son of ex-Vegas judge sentenced for movie-style heist at casino

The son of a former Las Vegas judge who wore a motorcycle helmet and brandished a gun during a Hollywood movie-style holdup at the posh Bellagio casino was sentenced Tuesday to at least three years in prison.

Anthony M. Carleo, 30, apologized at his sentencing for "all the chaos I've caused."

"I know my actions were reckless, I'm extremely sorry for everything I've done," Carleo said. "I owe my mother and father an apology. I'm sorry, your honor."

Carleo's spree was captured by security cameras, which showed him wearing a helmet and carrying a handgun before dawn Dec. 14 as he dashed out of the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

Carrying $1.5 million in chips, Carleo pointed his gun at a valet before jumping on a motorcycle and speeding away. No shots were fired.

The eye-popping denominations of the Bellagio chips -- many ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each -- drew intense media interest and comparisons to Hollywood movies like "Ocean's Eleven," even though Carleo's holdup was nowhere near as elaborate.

"To him, it was just a big joke," prosecutor Chris Owens said in arguing for a stiffer sentence.

Owens said that when Carleo was arrested, authorities discovered written plans to rob Caesars Palace, the iconic Sin City casino that sits just north of the Bellagio.

Judge Michelle Leavitt sentenced Carleo to at least three years but no more than 11 years in prison. He initially will become eligible for parole in 2014. Leavitt also gave him credit for the nearly seven months he has served in jail.

The judge agreed to hold off on deciding whether Carleo has to repay the chips, which have been largely recovered.

William Terry, Carleo's attorney, said ordering $1.5 million in restitution isn't appropriate because the chips are mostly worthless since they weren't redeemed.

After the robbery, MGM Resorts International decided to remove from circulation the type of $25,000 chips stolen and replace them with another design. That forced Carleo to try to redeem them or pawn them before they became worthless.

Carleo will be sentenced Thursday in another case -- a Dec. 9 robbery at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino in northwest Las Vegas.

Carleo is the son of George Assad, ousted by voters in June after serving as a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge since 2002.

Carleo's arrest report described a monthlong binge after the robbery of gambling and drugs, in which Carleo lost $105,000 gambling at the scene of the crime, including $72,000 on New Year's Eve.

He spent a week in January living at the Bellagio for free as a high roller but eventually became desperate for cash and began telling players in the casino's poker room that he committed the robbery and had uncashed chips.

He also solicited potential customers on a popular Web forum for poker players.

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