FBI Arrests Suspect in 2011 Las Vegas Casino Heist

  • Steven Gao is under arrest in LA over a robbery at the Rio Hotel and Casino
  • Gao had fled the US for China after stealing $33,000 worth of casino chips 
  • He is facing charges relating to robbery and burglary while using a deadly weapon
  • A second suspect entered a guilty plea before skipping bail, while a third was jailed
armed robber pointing gun
The FBI has arrested a man in relation to a robbery at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas dating back to 2011. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Caught after being on the run

The FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles arrested a man in relation to a 2011 robbery at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The FBI announced the arrest in a tweet:

Steven Gao, who is in his 60s, was allegedly part of a heist that saw $33,000 worth of casino chips stolen. There were two other participants in the February 2011 robbery that had previously been arrested. According to the authorities, Gao had fled the United States for China shortly after the incident took place.

allegedly part of a heist that saw $33,000 worth of casino chips stolen

Gao is facing a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon. He is currently being held in the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and will eventually be extradited to Las Vegas. 

Details of the robbery

One of the other two men involved in the casino robbery was Edward Land. Gao allegedly owed Land a gambling debt of $15,000 and was looking for a way to generate some cash.

Gao put on a mask, took out a revolver, and robbed a pai gow poker table

According to Land, he drove Gao to the Rio Hotel and Casino as he thought Gao was going to get his money. However, as soon as they arrived, Gao put on a mask, took out a revolver, and robbed a pai gow poker table. Before fleeing, he pointed his gun at a dealer who was trying to stop him. 

After his arrest that same year, Land entered a guilty plea deal, copping to conspiracy and robbery charges. However, he was a no-show when it came to his sentencing hearing. A third man, Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, was also involved. 

Casino chips recovered

After serving a search warrant at Land’s residence, police recovered $17,000 worth of Rio casino chips, a shoulder bag, and a wig. Yamaguchi, a cab driver at the same company as Gao, was said to be the getaway driver in the robbery. Officers found $1,000 worth of Rio casino chips in his vehicle after they tracked it down.  

Yamaguchi pleaded guilty through an Alford plea for the same charges. This type of plea meant that he did not admit any guilt, but that he was in agreement that the prosecution would be able to prove their case. He was given a prison sentence of two to six years.