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A little picture.


I've owned a bike twice of my life. When I first moved to Vegas, the first time I bought a motorcycle, little Honda CBR 600. This is fun, man. I mean, they haul ass. They're sleek and sexy. And the sound, it's just freeing. I went riding down red rocks, a real windy mountain road, and had no fucking idea what I was doing. Thank God they have helmet laws in Nevada. I go right down the cliff, I hit a rock, there's a chunk of my helmet, inch, inch and a half deep, and that should have been my skull. God's on my side there. And then I moved to Colorado and bought a brand new GSXR. Black and blue is a pretty sexy motherfucker. And that was the bike that went on the journey with me on those two fateful evenings. The ultimate getaway vehicle for when one is going to rob a casino.


From wavelength and pegolo pictures it this is the high roller heights. I'm your host, Chris Sims. Chapter two sun coasters.


Today, thousands from all parts of the globe flock to this frontier state by plane, train and car. Their eyes pop wide open with their first glimpse of Las Vegas.


Joan Didion once wrote, quote, las Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of american settlements. Bizarre and beautiful in its finality and in its devotion to immediate gratification, Las Vegas is quite literally the city that sprung from desert nothingness and now stands as a testament to life's excesses. From nothing. Now everything. For decades, Las Vegas was nothing more than a railroad pit stop, its population never rising above 5000 people. But all of that changed in 1931.


In 1931, the work began on Hoover Dam.


That's Amber Colbert, administrator of the Clark County Museum, one of the few reputable sources on the history of Las Vegas.


This opened up tons of jobs during a great depression when everyone in the nation was looking for somewhere to go to make ends meet. And this was the place. Las Vegas became kind of a tourist stop. With that tour stop, you need accommodations for that tourist. So the hotels and casinos started building up and realizing they can make money off these tourists.


It was at this point in the mid 1940s that the most important resident in Las Vegas's history would arrive. A visionary and violent man who saw the future in this outpost town of 16,000 people. Due primarily to the state of Nevada's lenient gambling laws.


1945 is when Bozie Seagalog arrives to Las Vegas. Because gaming is legalized. He first invested in the old Cortez off of Friedmont street. He heard that Billy Wilkinson, who had already started to build the flamingo, was having some financial problems. So he found a way to kind of slip in there, and eventually the final stages of construction took over. The Flamingo saw the opportunity, bought majority shares, and then took over the operations from there.


It's no secret one of the most notorious gangsters in american history is a founding father of Las Vegas, responsible for installing a certain mob ethos that became the blueprint for how the city operated throughout the latter half of the 20th century. For nearly four decades after Bugsy's arrival, the Las Vegas Strip was run by a vast criminal enterprise. It was the lifeline for the american mafia, a safe haven for money laundering, a shelter to crooks who needed a place to lay low. A seedy adult playland with a notorious reputation for getting its visitors just about anything they wanted, as long as the money kept flowing. Of course, how much money was running through Vegas casinos during that time wasn't exactly clear. Mobsters aren't exactly known for their transparent bookkeeping. And as with any establishment that is flush with large sums of money at all times, it ultimately became a target for those in search of an easy score.


Every report will say that there was robberies going back to the 1930s, but they don't credit where those robberies happened. What were the details of those robberies? It's all kind of hush hush. So the earliest robbery we could find that had a lot of details is actually an interesting one. In 1951, it's the story of the two Tonys.


The two Tonys are Tony Broncado and Anthony Shrambino, a couple of low level gangsters who ran in the same circles as famed Los Angeles mob boss Mickey Cohen. And clouded by a mix of greed and ambition, they got into the bad habit of robbing people who the rest of the mafia world considered untouchable.


In 1951, they got caught stealing from a sports book in Las Vegas because they forgot to wear a mask and they were recognized.


But it's not just any sports book in Vegas. It's the Flamingos sports book and the guy who ran it high. Goldbaum had been a victim of the two tonys before. During a heist of his jewelry store back in Los Angeles, Goldbaum id'd the two tonys, and they were arrested. But they skipped bail and headed to Los Angeles to hide out.


But of course, the mobs there as well, and they know they're there. They weren't that bright because they decided to collide with another mobster to go steal some more money.


That mobster was Aladina Fratiano, aka Jimmy the weasel. If you thought the two Tony's intuition was skewed before, imagine trusting a guy nicknamed Jimmy the Weasel. And it was this lapse in judgment that would ultimately prove fatal. The aftermath photos of the two Tony's execution are pure pulp noir. High contrast black and white images. Two bodies beyond a spider webbed windshield pock marked by bullet holes. Car seats covered in blood as dark as the night. Beyond. The lesson here is that when criminals are the ones being stolen from, there's no law to protect you. And no place is beyond their reach. And we're still finding relics of this bygone Las Vegas era.


Today in Nevada, a grim discovery. A body found on the shore of Lake Mead, just outside of Las Vegas. Inside this corroded barrel, authorities have determined he was murdered 50 years ago.


Could it stem from organized crime or something completely different? That's what Lieutenant Ray Spencer's team will dig into if they can extract dna from the remains. But despite the mob's lawless approach to those who cross them, people still try to lie, cheat and rob from their casinos.


This is where the cash, like, you know, bank robberies are. Bank robberies because that's where the money is. You go where the cash is.


That's Scott Robin, an independent Las Vegas.


Journalist and founder of the popular Twitter, I mean, x feed called Vital Vegas.


If you got caught cheating, this was not a situation where they would call 911. You would be taken to the basement, and you would be strapped to a hot water pipe, naked, and they would wait until the boiling water would flush through the pipes and you would be reprimanded. In that way.


These tactics were enough to keep the vast majority of gamblers honest inside the casinos, even if the management wasn't. But by the latter half of the 1970s, all of that began to change.


On May 18, 1976, a traumatic rite of civic purification began. A small group of apprehensive state gaming control board agents raided the Stardust casino, looking for evidence of the skim.


After a decade's worth of state and federal investigations, mob control of the casinos along the Vegas Strip and across much of the country crumbled. By the late eighty s, the mob era in Vegas was dead, and the.


Corporate era was beginning.


Fantasy becomes reality when the mirage appears.


On the Las Vegas Strip.


Residents flocked to the city, now free from organized.


Criminal control, doubling the total population. In just ten years.


Record setting billion dollar profits were publicly.


Reported on an annual basis. And as a result, a new crop of ambitious thieves came to town.


Royal Harper was a stardust security guard and used his two sons to impostor robbers. And they ended up stealing about $150,000. Then six months later, they tried it again. They attacked a guard carrying $1.1 million in cash and checks from an armored truck, using smoke bombs to conceal their escape. You have 1992, you have the big Stardust sports book. Cashier named William John Brenner, who walked out of the hotel with more than $500,000 in cash and gaming chips, is never seen again. 1993 is probably one of the most famous ones, and it was outside circus circus with an armored truck. Basically, the armored truck was actually filling ATM machines along the strip. And one of the armored truck driver just decided to drive away while she was waiting for her coworkers to come back and ended up taking $2.9 million and was on the run for twelve years.


Long gone were the days of basement water pipe torture or strolls along the bottom of lake Mead and cement shoes. But the parable of the two Tonys still makes its way through the backroom poker games and dive bars of the American west. Greed and ambition unchecked, can be the end of you. For one Tony in particular, our Tony, this story could have been a wake up call. But his debt, his addiction and his general desperation made the insane idea of robbing a casino seem like his only way out.


It was a perfect storm. Of all these little different events, you find yourself desolate and with no money, no purpose. I'd be passed out in my car sometimes in the driveway. I'd come home at like midnight, listening to NPR or something on the way home, and then just sit in the driveway and fall asleep. It's embarrassing, but it was the world I was living in at that point. You do irrational things, man. It's like, not to blame it on that, but when you're in that little storm and the circumstances all line up, you just, you're just not yourself.


Over the course of November and 2010, now over $30,000 in debt and feeding a raging OxyContin addiction, Tony began to solidify his plan to rob a casino. His target, the Suncoast casino oftvoted the best Locos hotel casino, located far off the strip in a western neighborhood called Summerlin.


Whatever you want, Suncoast says it right. The game's the food, the folks are out of sight.


Man, I'm hot tonight.


Yet of all the casinos to choose from in Las Vegas, why rob this one?


So I was in a little group of. I would guess they'd call them meetup games now. We would go to a few different casinos throughout the week and they would organize a game there. One day it might be at the Golden Nugget, and then one day you're at the Suncoast, next day you're at the venetian. And generally speaking, the Suncoast was a locals joint. Not a lot of hoopla there. It's just a nice casino off the strip in a good area of town. But on this particular night, there was going to be this poker game where I knew there was going to be a pretty good amount of cash on the table. I know the casino is probably not going to fight back. The guards didn't really carry firearms. Schematically, their poker room is maybe 15 to 20ft from an exit door, which, from a security standpoint, isn't ideal. I know there's players at this game. They're going to have money on the table, usually because cash played plus whatever they bought in for. It was just an aha moment. Like, oh, they're having this game there. It would be easy to get in and out.


But due to the fact he had.


Spent so much time at the Suncoast.


Tony was hesitant to case it in.


Person before going through with his plan, assuming he was actually going to do it.


Of course.


The night of the event, I actually had somebody go in there and kind of just make sure I wasn't like, walking into a fucking police convention. You know what I mean? Like, I don't want to walk in and have 40 cops standing there drinking coffee and then, that's not a good look.


And it was at this moment, when Tony recruited someone else, that his plan became more than just a crazy, obsessive, get rich quick fantasy. It began its mutation into a wild reality.


She was a girl I knew from Pueblo.


We'll just call her C.


My name is Kara Correnti. I'm from Pueblo, Colorado. I grew up the same place Tony did. Growing up, I'd always heard about the Carleos. There was rumors that they were in the mafia. They were intimidating. I worked at the restaurant. It's called Rosario's. I was a bartender there. So I had some interactions with the Carleos. They would come in quite a bit to the restaurant and just their demeanor, a lot of bravado. You had to make sure that the orders were correct and the drinks were right. Otherwise it wouldn't be good. I mean, they were always nice to me. I never had any issues with them. They were always nice, but still, I wouldn't mess with them.


Self admittedly, Kara was wild in her youth. Parties, drug use, and other bad decisions led her down a treacherous and familiar road that many other lost girls travel.


I struggled a lot at the time and for years after with addiction and mental health issues.


Yet by her early 20s, Kara seemed to have found some stability working in Estes, a hidden gem in Colorado's rocky mountains, just northwest of Boulder.


I was just doing really well when I was there, and I was sober. I wasn't doing any hardcore drugs or anything like that, which was good.


And then, with her life seemingly under control, she went on her very first trip to Las Vegas, where things took a sudden, dark turn.


I actually met this singer. He's a christian singer. His name is Carmen. He was really, like, popular in the 90s.


I'm taking off, off to a higher place, a higher level, where the devil don't have power because Christ be the king.


I saw him in, in concert when I was young. I was, like, five. So I always kind of was a fan of his growing up, and he was like the Elvis of christian rock. He was out in Vegas, and he found me on Facebook.


I guess.


I was on one of his fan pages, and he started talking to me, and I was kind of like, is this really know? I didn't know whether it was really him or not, but it was him. We used to talk on Skype. He wanted me to come out to Vegas, and so I decided to go. I was kind of getting into modeling at the time, and he was going to help me with that, and he talked me into it. So I left my job and I left Estes and all my friends, and I went out to Vegas. It kind of fell apart the second I met him because he wasn't anything like what I expected. I don't even think he had a bible or anything in the house. He just wasn't at all what he portrayed to be on television. I thought he was like some good christian man, and he wasn't at all. He was just a typical older pervert. I just knew that it wasn't going to work out long term. But I loved Vegas. I just loved the energy, the atmosphere, just. I can pick up on energy everywhere I go. And I just loved the energy.


Just how it was always constantly alive, like, it never sleeps, it never sleeps. And I just felt like I could take on the whole world when I was there. I felt like anything was possible. I felt like, wow, I could really get into modeling more here. And there's so many opportunities, and I wanted to make it work. I wanted to stay.


A month after arriving, Kara got away.


From Carmen, got her own place, and started chasing her modeling dreams. However, a side effect of being a.


Pretty young woman in Las Vegas while rebuffing constant advances from the elvis of christian rock was a return to drinking and drug use, which is how she reconnected with Tony.


She ended up moving to Vegas, trying to strike a rich or do whatever she wanted to do. And I don't even know how we hooked up. It was just like, hey, I'm out here. You're out here fucking both. Like drugs.


I contacted him while I was still living with Carmen, and my goal was to get some oxycontin from him. And I was kind of feeling stressed out because things weren't working out between me and Carmen. So I decided to call Tony. And so I went over to his house. We just clicked, and we were partying, know, I started seeing Tony almost daily because I was buying pills from him almost every day. So we were spending a lot of time together. It happened very quickly. All it takes is that one time to do that drug, and then basically, you're hooked again. I would meet him. Places like the parking garages usually were a spot that we used to meet. We would smoke the pills together, hang out together, and we would gamble. Sometimes together, too. Well, I wouldn't. I'd sit there while he gambled. But we were drug buddies. But I think it was a comfort to both of us to have somebody from back home. I think that's why he felt comfortable with telling me about what he was planning on doing was because he knew me from back home and he felt like he could trust me.


I don't remember the exact moment he started talking about the robbery, but he did start talking, like, I should just do this. And I just thought he was delusional. Like, I just thought he was living in some sort of fantasy land. I didn't think that he was actually capable of following through with any of it.


I needed somebody to just be my eyes and ears in there, right? And I had asked her to walk into the sports book, get a betting slip, and walk out.


And then he said, and I'll give you some pills for doing this. And on your way out, let me know how many people are in the poker room. And I was like, okay. So I did it. I went in, and I got a hot chocolate, and I got the sheets for him. And I looked at the poker room. It wasn't full, it wasn't crowded. There weren't that many people in there, and that's the only information that I gave him.


Of course, having Kara scout the suncoast beforehand was just one part of Tony's multifaceted plan. Over the prior week or so, he'd been checking off his casino, robbing to do list, get a gun, have a disguise, meticulously plot out the logistics of an entry and an exit, among other important details.


So the gun's easy. I had a firearm in Colorado, purchased illegally. I needed to get my car, my Lexus, and my motorcycle, which was the getaway vehicle to a place. So I had Kara drive my car to my house, pick up my motorcycle, and we got both of those vehicles somewhere. I know I'm going to wear my motorcycle helmet, right? I went and bought duct tape. I concealed my helmet. I wrapped because they have designs on them, you know what I mean? So I tried to do everything I could to conceal my identity. I also brought a change of clothes. In my dad's house, there's a guard gate, and everything's monitored. There's a camera. What I didn't want to do is be seen leaving in the same clothes that the robber was wearing. I wore some extra clothing to make it look like I was bigger than I was. I did these certain things to misdirect law enforcement and conceal my identity. I had her walk in and go to the sports book to make sure that the coast was clear, if you will. And I literally just was, like, parked up the street waiting for her text.


Did some light stretching. Don't want to pull a hammy. Adrenaline was going. I was naive, right? Like, if I did any more planning, it probably wouldn't have worked. Once I got the text message from her saying that there wasn't any problems that she could see. It was go time, man. Rode up to the suncoast, backed my motorcycle in so that the ass was facing the casino and the front tire was facing the direction I wanted to go when I was leaving. I've never done anything like this, right? And it's like, it takes some balls to get off your bike and walk in there and do the thing. I got off my bike and froze up. That was probably my logical part of my brain and conscious and all that saying, what are you doing, man? And I remember it's the weirdest thing, like, audibly out loud to myself saying, like, quit being a little bitch and get in there and do it. I literally said those words out loud to myself under my motorcycle helmet. Quit being a little bitch and get in there and do it. And I did open the first door, walked through the second door, and maybe 25ft up and to my left was the poker room.


And the first thing you walk by in the poker room is the little counter where their desk is. Behind that is an office like the manager's office. And there were two gentlemen in there, both wearing suits, so I assume they were casino employees. One of them was standing in the door threshold with his back to the cash drawer. The other one was in the office facing him. There was really no interaction. I walked behind the counter, opened the drawer, and just started pulling cash out. I had a backpack on, right? Like, wearing it like a kangaroo pouch and a jacket over, just easy access, kind of grab and go type thing. And this dude either touched me or did something for me to turn around, and I just naturally turned around to look at him. They saw that I had a gun, probably shit their pants. I was there 20 seconds, maybe. I grabbed all the cash that I could see there. It felt like a million. So I'm running out the door, and I'm built for power. I'm not built for speed. And somebody yelled, robbery.




They started making a hoopla, and that kind of ruined my plan. I had intentions of hitting that poker game. In hindsight, I'm so glad I didn't do that. It would have been 32 extra counts of robbery. So that's never good. I'm leaving, and everybody's yelling and screaming all this. I hit the first door, hit the second door, put the gun in the bag, turned the bike on, and I just fucking hauled ass. I went past my dad's house. There's a playground parking lot. I pulled over and I changed clothes, right? I took the tape off my helmet, changed shirt, changed pants, changed everything. I could put everything in the backpack, all the robbery clothes in the backpack. And then I rode home. My dad's house is probably ten minutes from there. I remember pulling up to the gate, and it was near Christmas time, and I expressed to the guard that I did not want my dad to know that I rode my motorcycle. That's what I told her, right? Like, you didn't see me on this bike, but she didn't know anything. And I gave her a pretty hefty little Christmas present in cash, pull into the driveway.


It's the fucking craziest thing. I remember my dad sitting on the couch watching Sean Hannity. His wife's in the kitchen. And I, like, said hi to them, waved to him, and walked upstairs and shut my door, locked it, and dumped out this backpack, and boom, cash twenty k. I don't remember a lot after that. I might have jumped online and see if there was any talking about it on news. There was no reporting on it from news media. I didn't see a single word written or mentioned or anything.


And just like that, the biker bandit had been born. Tony Carleo had just pulled off what countless people had only dreamed of doing, but few have ever attempted or accomplished. He'd robbed a Las Vegas casino and gotten away with it scot free and beyond the Suncoast's bottom line. That evening, no one got hurt. But as the adrenaline subsided and reality kicked back in for Tony, he realized little had actually changed in his life. He was still flunking out of college. He still needed oxy, and the cash he'd stolen wouldn't even cover his gambling debts.


So after the dust settled and I woke up the next day, I felt all the emotions. I was happy. I had 20k in my hand. You know what I mean? Like, that's a good thing. Disappointed that it wasn't more relative to what I had just lost. Still had some disbelief that I had just done what I did. That was pretty far out of my normal behavior. I'd done it, and still breathing and not in jail, and that's a good thing. But again, it wasn't enough.


That's next time on the high roller heist. This episode of the High Roller Heist was created and produced by Eli Chorus and Joshua Schaefer of Pegalo Pictures and executive produced by Jason Hoke of Waveland. Written by Eli Chorus, edited and assembled by Christy Williams. Hosted and co produced by me, Chris Sims. Co produced with interviews recorded by Nicholas Sinakis, theme music and score by Josha Klebe with sound design and sound mixing by Craig Plackey and host narration recorded by David Custard at CCM Studios in Denver, Colorado. A special thanks to the Denver Chop house and Brewery. Thanks again for listening, and don't forget to follow or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and leave a review.