Jury selection is complete, and the court heard opening statements on July 11 in the case of Caleb Rogers, a Las Vegas police officer accused of a string of casino heists.
Federal prosecutors are expected to paint Rogers, 35, as an increasingly desperate addict experiencing crushing gambling debt during the trial, which will continue through the week.
Authorities have accused Rogers of stealing almost $165,000 during a trio of off-strip casino robberies spanning four months.
According to prosecutors, Rogers armed himself with a police-issued weapon during at least one of the alleged heists.
Accused’s Brother Offers Positive ID of Suspect in Videos
Rogers’ attorney, Richard Pocker, has claimed that evidence tying his client to two of the three robberies is weak at best.
Prosecutors and investigators allege Rogers made away with $85,000 during the first two robberies in late 2021 and early 2022. His colleagues on the police force spent months hunting the thief.
However, in February 2022, security detained Rogers after a robbery at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in which almost $79,000 was stolen. Allegedly, Rogers was caught with the money on his person.
According to authorities, the thief’s method was nearly identical during all three crimes, linking Rogers to the earlier two robberies. The thief was described as wearing dark clothes, a face covering, and black latex gloves. After demanding money from casino cashiers, he is said to have placed the money in a bag underneath his jacket.
Witnesses describe the robber as having limped away to a “disposable vehicle” due to a problem with his leg. Authorities have included this “unique gait” as evidence in the criminal complaint.
Pocker, in turn, has accused Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) detectives and the FBI of pressure tactics. Specifically, he claims that law enforcement pressured two people, including Rogers’ brother, to identify his client as the robbery suspect.
Casino Heists Hard to Pull Off Without Getting Caught
Mehmet Erdem, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told the Associated Press that casino heists are hard to pull off successfully.
Robust casino security teams, uniformed guards, and plainclothes mean “the chances you get caught and are identified is very high,” Erdem said. Advancements in security technology, like facial recognition software and high-definition cameras, make it even harder.
Before his arrest, Rogers served seven years with the LVMPD as an active-duty patrol officer. Currently, he’s on unpaid leave “without police powers,” according to an LVMPD spokesperson.
However, Rogers remains on the employee roster pending the outcome of his criminal trial.
Witnesses expected to testify at his trial include casino cashiers and security guards. Also expected to take the stand is Rogers’ brother, Josiah, who identified Rogers in videos captured during the earlier robberies.
Authorities granted Josiah Rogers immunity from prosecution for his testimony.
Violent Crimes Ineligible for Nevada’s Diversion Courts
Nevada has the longest-running gambling treatment diversion court in the US, having been joined only recently by Ohio. These programs allow some of those who commit crimes driven by gambling addiction to accept supervised treatment instead of incarceration.
Unfortunately for Rogers, the details of his case will likely make him ineligible. Such programs are for non-violent offences only, such as fraud or pilfering from employers. So, his alleged use of a weapon is likely to disqualify him if he’s found guilty.
After being detained, Rogers allegedly pulled out his weapon and asked the guards if they were “willing to be shot over this.” One of the security officers grabbed the gun, ending the confrontation.
When the police arrived, Rogers allegedly identified himself using his department personnel number (DPN). DPNs are a common way for officers to identify one another.
According to the complaint against Rogers, a detective later asked him if anything could have prevented the robberies.
“Nothing,” Rogers reportedly retorted.
Since his arrest, Rogers was denied bail and remains in custody on four charges.