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Calif. man held, 2nd sought in attempt to snatch $115K in chips from Bellagio on Vegas Strip
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.
A second man escaped after spraying a blackjack dealer and others with a caustic eye-burning chemical during the attempted robbery Saturday night at the Bellagio, police said.
With the distraction in the air, Michael Q. Belton snatched nearly two dozen high-value chips and took off for the door, according to a police report.
Belton didn't get far. Casino employees tackled and held him until police arrived. He dropped 23 red, white and blue chips valued at $5,000 each, the arrest report stated.
"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.
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.
Associated Press writer Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.