Crooks botch huge chip heist at Bellagio in Las Vegas

Crooks botch huge chip heist at Bellagio in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) - A hapless bandit lost his wig, sunglasses and $115,000 worth of casino chips when security wrestled him to the floor during a botched weekend heist at a posh Vegas Strip resort, authorities said Monday.

Two men attempted to rob the Bellagio on Saturday night by spraying a blackjack dealer and others with a caustic eye-burning chemical, police said.

With the distraction in the air, Michael Q. Belton snatched up nearly two dozen high-value chips and took off for the door, according to a police report.

The man who sprayed the noxious gas escaped, but Belton was tackled to the floor and held until police arrived.

Belton struggled at first, according to the police arrest report, but then suddenly stopped fighting back against casino employees and surrendered.

He dropped 23 red, white and blue chips, valued at $5,000 each, police said.

"How long am I going away for?" Belton asked detectives during a recorded interview following his arrest, according to the report.

Investigators said Belton, of Nuevo, Calif., about 65 miles east of Los Angeles, told them he needed the money because he is unemployed and his grandparents are ill.

He told police he didn't know the man who got away. Bolton told investigators he responded to an Internet posting for a job repossessing cars. But he said when he reached Las Vegas, the man who posted the job ad said he wanted him to help another man rob the Bellagio.

Belton was held Monday on $60,000 bail at the Clark County jail pending an initial court appearance Tuesday on felony robbery, conspiracy and burglary charges. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

Officer Jose Hernandez, a department spokesman, said the investigation was ongoing and Belton would not agree to a jail interview.

The suspect who got away apparently did not take any chips as he fled. Police said all chips were recovered, and casino officials say they sustained no financial loss.

Authorities said they were still searching for the second man in the heist, which they said was recorded by casino security cameras. The video was not made public.

No serious injuries were reported.

The last bandit to make off with casino chips from the Bellagio, in December 2010, was sentenced to three to 11 years in state prison for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Anthony Michael Carleo wore a motorcycle helmet as he waved a gun and made off with $1.5 million worth of chips. He was arrested trying to redeem a $25,000 chip.

He was sentenced to an additional six to 16 years for another armed robbery at another Las Vegas casino.

He blamed addictions to drugs and gambling.