LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man prosecutors said worked with a larger criminal organization to trick at least two casino employees into handing over large amounts of money could serve one year in jail if he does not violate his probation.
On Monday, Clark County District Judge Jasmin Lilly-Spells sentenced Erik Gutierrez Martinez, 24, to one year at the Clark County Detention Center. Lilly-Spells sentenced Gutierrez Martinez to a 36-to-96-month suspended sentence, meaning if he violates his probation upon his jail release, he will go to prison.
Last month, Gutierrez Martinez pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of more than $100,000. Gutierrez Martinez initially faced two felony counts. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to serve anywhere from one to 10 years in custody.
The 8 News Now Investigators were the only reporters in court Monday.
“I went into this to get something for nothing, and I am paying the consequences,” Gutierrez Martinez said during his sentencing, adding his actions were “very stupid.”
As the 8 News Now Investigators first reported in June, Las Vegas Metro police searched Gutierrez Martinez’s home on June 21, finding bundles of money from Circa Hotel & Casino, which they believe were part of a scam to defraud the business of more than $1 million, documents said.
Documents the 8 News Now Investigators later obtained in the case revealed the allegations involved thefts at Circa, Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite and the Golden Nugget in Laughlin — as well as federal investigators, including the U.S. Secret Service. Gutierrez Martinez was never charged with the allegations involving the Laughlin casino.
As part of the plea deal, Gutierrez Martinez only accepted guilt in the Circa case, though prosecutors and his attorney discussed both cases in court Monday.
“He’s a bag man for a highly sophisticated criminal organization,” Deputy District Attorney Austin Beaumont said.
In March, a casino cage supervisor at the Eureka casino removed $250,000 from the property and drove to Las Vegas to deliver the money to a person she believed was owed money for hand sanitizer. The person investigators believe the employee met with at a gas station parking lot was Gutierrez Martinez, documents said.
On March 2 around 1:30 a.m., a person called the Eureka casino cage from a Mexican phone number about a missing check to a business, documents said. The person then called the employee’s personal cell phone, telling her to search for a check that was made out to a business, which she would find in the cage, documents said. Mesquite is more than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Arizona border.
The employee told the person on the phone she could not find the check. The person on the phone then instructed the employee to remove $250,000 in cash from the casino cage and deliver it to another person in Las Vegas, documents said. In court Monday, Gutierrez Martinez’s attorney, John Turco, said his client returned the money to the Eureka employee after she came back for it.
On June 17, police responded to Circa for a report of a similar scam, the 8 News Now Investigators first reported in June. A person from the hotel’s security office told detectives “an unknown person” had contacted the casino cage “claiming to be the owner of the hotel” and asking for $320,000 for an emergency payment to the fire department, police wrote in court documents.
Police interviewed the cage supervisor, who said she received a phone call from a person who claimed they were the hotel’s owner. The person, who was not the hotel’s owner, said “the fire department needed to do a check on the fire extinguishers” and “they would need a payment for further safety devices,” documents said.
The cage supervisor brought the money in four installments to the unknown person at different off-site locations, documents said. The payments totaled $314,000, $350,000, and $500,000, plus three smaller deposits, resulting in a loss of $1,170,000 to the hotel, documents said. The employee believed she was on the phone with the hotel’s owner and texting with her manager, police said.
Detectives tracked the vehicle involved in the suspected theft, finding its registered owner. Police suspect the car belonged to Gutierrez Martinez’s aunt with whom he lives.
Beaumont said several employees lost their jobs over the thefts.
“That is beyond shockingly poor judgment to take a bunch of money from somebody you don’t know,” Turco said.
Police arrested Gutierrez Martinez at a gym on Sunday, June 18. Detectives later recovered nearly $850,000 from his home.
Representatives from Eureka Mesquite and Golden Nugget Laughlin casinos did not return requests for comment. Derek Stevens, CEO of Circa, said in June that Circa was cooperating with the investigation and that he appreciated Metro’s efforts.
“This isn’t what I want to do or what I ever wanted to do,” Gutierrez Martinez said. “It was a mistake.”