Las Vegas, NV – May 19, 2012 – It wasn’t exactly a well orchestrated and intricate “Oceans 11” type of operation that 24 year old Michael Belton had gotten himself involved in. But then again, this all started when he responded to a job for an auto repossessor on Craig’s List.
A little while after the Allied Finance Adjusters convention had closed out right across the street, employees and guest of the Bellagio casino became the victims of an attempted casino heist.
LV Police report that Belton and a second man, identified only as “Carlos,” were wearing black wigs and sunglasses and hiding a can of pepper spray when they entered the high-stakes blackjack area about 10:45 p.m. Saturday night.
The man known as “Carlos” sprayed the table as Belton snatched 23 chips worth $5,000 each, for a total of $115,000, according to the police report.
Cleveland resident Richard Hauck was at the table when it was robbed.
“I saw an arm out of the side of my eye reach out and squirt something… At first I thought it was a joke, like some old high school friend. But then my wife screamed, and a guy reached into the plastic that holds down the chips and started grabbing, and I said, ‘It’s a freakin’ robbery. ”
The latest plot to rob the Bellagio of high-value gaming chips was foiled by quick-thinking casino employees Saturday night.
Michael Quinn Belton, 24, was arrested Sunday morning on three felony charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary, according to his Las Vegas police arrest report.
Police said Belton and a second man, identified in the report only as “Carlos,” were wearing black wigs and sunglasses and wielding a can of pepper spray when they entered a high-stakes blackjack area about 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
“Carlos” sprayed the table as Belton snatched 23 chips worth $5,000 each, for a total of $115,000, according to the report.Richard Hauck, visiting from Cleveland, was gambling at the table with his wife when the robbery occurred. “I saw an arm out of the side of my eye reach out and squirt something,” said Hauck, 59. “At first I thought it was a joke, like some old high school friend. But then my wife screamed, and a guy reached into the plastic that holds down the chips and started grabbing, and I said, ‘It’s a freakin’ robbery.’ ”
Brad Jackson, 51, stated that he was standing at a neighboring table when the two men approached and didn’t realize anything was wrong until he saw a casino employee in a suit holding a man in a headlock. “I looked over and the pit boss guy had this guy by the neck,” said Jackson, from Dallas. Jackson claims that the suspect ran about 10 yards with the casino employee chasing him with the employee screaming, “I’ll gouge your (expletive) eyes out,” before jumping on his back, according to Jackson.
Three people eventually tackled the man to the ground and Jackson snapped a photo of the fracas with his iPhone. The stolen chips scattered to the floor and were later recovered, according to the police.
“It was pretty wild,” Jackson said. “I’ve been out to Vegas about 30 times, and that was the most exciting thing I’ve seen.” Belton was restrained and arrested by casino officials until police arrived. The man named “Carlos” reportedly escaped. In Belton’s police interrogation, he admitted to planning the crime with two co-conspirators: “Carlos” and a third man, also a Carlos named, Carlos Rodriguez.
Belton told the investigating detectives that he is from Nuevo, Calif. and unemployed. He claims he met Rodriguez through a Craigslist ad and was offering a job repossessing cars in Las Vegas. According to Belton, when he arrived in town, Rodriguez told him about the scheme to rob the Bellagio and offered him a chance to help in the heist. Belton claims that he agreed only because he was broke and that both of his grandparents were sick, according to the report.
The scheme called for Belton and the other “Carlos” to pepper spray a dealer and snatch as many chips from the dealers chip trough as possible and flee. Then, once outside of the casino, they would discard their disguises and hand off the chips to Rodriguez, with all three meeting at Rodriguez’s Mandalay Bay hotel room.
Belton claims that Rodriguez claimed to be a high-roller who could easily exchange the stolen chips for cash, which they would then split three ways. Police checked Rodriguez’s room with Belton’s room car at the Mandalay Bay. According to police, the keycard and room were was registered to Carlos Rodriguez of North Hollywood, Calif. The casino had comped Rodriguez the room from the Mandalay Bay Player’s Club but he had never checked into the room from the Mandalay Bay Player’s Club.
Police arrested Belton and booked him into the Clark County Detention Center, where he is being held on $60,000 bail.