Circa Casino Scammer Sentenced to Jail for $1M Heist

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Erik Gutierrez Martinez, a 24-year-old man, has been sentenced to one year in jail for his involvement in a scam that conned several Nevada casino venues out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The scam was part of a larger criminal organization’s operation and included two large thefts – one of $1.1 million from Circa Resort & Casino and another $250K theft from Eureka Casino in Mesquite.

Clark County District Judge Jasmin Lilly-Spells handed down the sentence, which includes a 36-to-96-month suspended sentence. This means that if Gutierrez Martinez violates his probation upon his release from jail, he will be sent to prison.

In September, he pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of more than $100,000. He initially faced two felony counts. However, as part of a plea deal, he agreed to plead guilty to the Circa theft only, for which he will serve anywhere from one to 10 years.

“I went into this to get something for nothing, and I am paying the consequences,” Gutierrez Martinez said to the court after his sentencing.

“This isn’t what I want to do, or what I ever wanted to do.”

Bag Man for Sophisticated Criminals

Gutierrez Martinez’s role in events was summarized by Deputy District Attorney Austin Beaumont. “He’s a bag man for a highly sophisticated criminal organization,”

The scam involved tricking casino employees into handing over money by posing as company higher-ups, or other business owners contracted by the casino.

In June 2023, police responded to a report of a similar scam at the Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

A person claiming to be the hotel’s owner contacted the casino cage, asking for $320,000 for an emergency payment to the fire department. The cage supervisor ended up bringing the money in four instalments to different off-site locations, resulting in a loss of $1,170,000 to the hotel.

In another instance, a casino cage supervisor at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite was tricked into removing $250,000 from the property and driving to Las Vegas to deliver the money to a person she believed was owed money for hand sanitizer. That person turned out to be Gutierrez Martinez.

Detectives later tracked down the vehicle involved in the Circa theft and found that it was registered to Gutierrez Martinez’s aunt, with whom he lives. Police arrested him at a gym on June 18 and recovered nearly $850,000 from his home. Many of the bundles were still labelled with Circa Resort & Casino branding.

Gutierrez Martinez denied involvement in the Mesquite theft, claiming in court that he got spooked and returned the money back to the employee after she questioned what was going on. He was not charged for his involvement in that case.

Circa Hotel & Casino is home to the largest of all the Nevada retail sportsbooks, and is expanding its Circa Sports online betting brand across the country.

Concerning Trend

The sentencing of Gutierrez Martinez, however, will not allay all concerns over the wider criminal organization mentioned by prosecutors.

Back in March 2023, the Monarch Casino Resort and Spa in Black Hawk, Colorado, was the site of the largest casino heist in the state’s history, when $500,000 was handed over to impersonators by a casino employee.

By July, the rise in this kind of crime led to the Indian Gaming Commission publishing a warning letter, with tips to help tribal casino operators avoid falling victim to the same scams.

However, less than a month later, Michigan casino venues were added to the list of victims, with a $700K theft at the Four Winds Casino that followed a similar pattern.

Gutierrez Martinez was not the only person convicting of robbing Las Vegas casinos recently. Serving Las Vegas police officer Caleb Rogers, was last month sentenced to 12 years in prison after a series of violent casino robberies in 2021.

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