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Las Vegas judge's son pleads guilty to casino heist 15/06/2011
Associated Press in Las Vegas
Motorcycle bandit made off with chips in armed robbery from craps table at luxury Bellagio resort

The son of a Las Vegas judge has pleaded guilty to being the motorcycle helmet-wearing bandit who was videotaped waving a gun as he made off with $1.5m (£900,000) in gambling chips from a casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Anthony Michael Carleo, 29, apologised and told a Nevada judge he had been "very foolish" when he scooped chips from the craps table at Bellagio, which is one of the Strip's most lavish entertainment, gambling and hotel resorts. Carleo then pointed a handgun at a valet, jumped on a motorcycle and sped away before dawn on 14 December. No shots were fired.

He pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, charges prosecutor Chris Owens said could get him between three and 36 years in state prison.

Clark County district court judge Michelle Leavitt scheduled sentencing for 23 August.

Carleo is also due to plead guilty to similar charges in a separate case stemming from a robbery on 9 December at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, also in Las Vegas. Owens told reporters those charges could carry additional prison time.

As part of the plea deal in the two cases, prosecutors dropped several other assault, burglary and weapon charges and agreed not to seek additional drug and weapons charges relating to incidents police had investigated.

Carleo, the son of the Las Vegas municipal court judge George Assad, is being held at the Clark County jail on $1m bail.

Assad was this month voted out of the bench seat he has held since 2002. He issued no comment about the case since issuing a public statement after Carleo's arrest, on 2 February, at the Bellagio. Police said Carleo was apprehended after trying to sell several $25,000 chips to an undercover Las Vegas police officer.

Assad described himself and his family at the time as "devastated and heartbroken". As a prosecutor and a judge, he said: "I have always felt people who break the law need to be held accountable."

Police say the Suncoast robbery, in which almost $19,000 in cash was stolen, played out like a rehearsal for the Bellagio robbery, five days later. In both cases, a motorcycle-riding bandit thwarted video surveillance by keeping his helmet on as he entered. He displayed a gun and left the gambling floor in seconds. No one was injured in either case.

The high denominations of the Bellagio chips, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each, drew intense media interest and comparisons to Hollywood movies such as Ocean's Eleven. But experts said the culprit could have trouble cashing the loot.

After the Bellagio holdup, Carleo spent two months partying, gambling at the casino and trying to decide what to do with the high-denomination chips, which are known as "cranberries" because of their color, police said. He eventually approached a casual poker player on a popular web forum and sent photos, signed "biker bandit", of two $25,000 Bellagio chips.

Owens has said about $375,000 in Bellagio chips is still missing.

Read the full story of catching the Bellagio Biker Bandit.