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Feb 3, 2011 7:48 PM by Greg Boyce

Friends recall Pueblo man charged in Bellagio heist

A brazen robbery caught on surveillance video made national headlines a month and a half ago.  A man wearing a motorcycle helmet runs out of a Las Vegas casino waving a gun.  He got away with $1.5 million worth of high-value chips from the Bellagio.

Las Vegas Police say their suspect is 29-year-old Anthony Michael Carleo, known in Pueblo to his friends as Tony Mike.  Just after Christmas, and less than two weeks after the robbery, a friend says she partied with Carleo and others at a bar on Union Avenue.  "You know we were doing rounds of shots, having a great time, beer and shots for everybody," said Tiana Woodruff.  She told us he insisted on picking up the tab.  "He had a lot of money on him and he told us, you know he lives in Vegas and that he had just gotten lucky gambling and that he won $80,000 gambling."

Authorities in Las Vegas say Carleo was in the Bellagio several times before his arrest.  They report $300,000 worth of chips remain missing.

Justin Polito has known Carleo since high school.  He said he was shocked by the news. "Good guy. Guy I would call my friend absolutely."

Carleo graduated from South High School in 2000.  He was on student council.  His mother was married to Pueblo businessman Gino Carleo for a time.  He changed his name from Assad to Carleo in 2001.  His biological father is George Assad, a municipal judge in Las Vegas.

Carleo worked in Pueblo at Sound Venture Realty.  He had a broker's license until last year.  He also worked as a mobile DJ and with a limousine service.

"I've already said it a couple of times today," said Polito.  "Innocent until proven guilty in my mind 100 percent, but it's hard not to believe also."

Las Vegas Police say Carleo is also a suspect in another robbery at another casino in December.

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