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All About the Cranberries

Bellagio suspect was living the dream—until he needed to change-in those $25,000 chips.

8:31 AM, Feb 5, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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At the poker tables in the Bellagio hotel, Anthony Carleo, a junior at UNLV, was telling people he was "a made guy" from Denver. He was getting comped a room, food, and drink—understandable since he had apparently dropped over $100,000 during his stay. And yet it wasn't that money had become scarce for Carleo. It was the denominations that were a problem.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The next day [December 20], another poker player told Bellagio Vice President of Security Raymond Brown that he had played with an Italian buddy who knew a "Tony" who was looking to sell "cranberry chips,'' slang for the $25,000 denominations. Brown alerted the police.

Soon others told police Carleo was getting desperate because he was running out of small-denomination chips that could be cashed in without attracting attention....

On Jan. 25, an undercover officer and an informant went to the Bellagio to identify associates of Carleo. They found one man who had bought a $25,000 chip from Carleo, paying $10,000.

On Jan. 30, Carleo sold an undercover detective a cranberry. Two days later, four more cranberries changed hands.

Apparently Carleo's biggest problem was his mouth. He had bragged to a dealer that he was going to rob the casino prior to his actually doing it. He posted a lot of his activities on Facebook as well. As noted in the Review-Journal:

His favorite quote: "Money isn't everything, but it's right up there next to oxygen."

On the Web page, he wrote about moving to Las Vegas from Colorado last summer, his dream of being a high-stakes poker player and his fondness for the charms of the Bellagio.

"Never have I seen as many beautiful women in one place on a Sunday evening as I am humbly observing at Bellagio in Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada," he posted on Nov. 28. "My neck is getting a great stretch and my zippers elasticity is being challenged! Viva Vegas!!"

Bada-bing! Also, the suspect told an undercover cop that he indeed robbed the Bellagio. Authorities dug deep into his background: the motorcycle he owns fits the description of the one from the heist; he was in possession of a large amount of oxycontin; his father is a Nevada judge.

And so it was only a matter of time:

At 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday, officers arrested Carleo without incident in the Bellagio casino. Sources said he thought he was there to pass more cranberries. According to the police report, he admitted his involvement in the Bellagio robbery.... Detectives searched Carleo's room at the Bellagio, his father's home, the home of a woman found to have seven cranberries and that of his girlfriend, Layla Loeung, where another 16 cranberries were found in a bedroom closet.

In a Facebook post just before a poker tournament, Carleo stated, "Today will be a life changing day if all goes well and God answers my prayers." He lost—but God did answer his prayers. It just wasn't the answer he was hoping for. (In fact, I am quite certain God was thinking, "Wasn't the comped dinner enough?")

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