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Man Pleads Guilty To Seven-Figure Las Vegas Casino Scam

Circa Hotel & Casino Hit For More Than $1 Million


Circa Hotel and CasinoInstead of a cushy Las Vegas suite, one scammer will soon be spending some time in a prison cell. Erik Gutierrez Martinez, 24, was accused of a scam that netted more than $1 million from the Circa Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one count of theft of more than $100,000, bringing to a close one of the more interesting Vegas crime capers in years.

Originally charged with two felonies, Martinez reached a plea deal with prosecutors. He now faces anywhere from one to 10 years in prison.

Details On The Scams

Martinez’s plot was discovered when police began investigating in June. Officers responded to a call from Circa and were informed that “an unknown person” had spoken by phone with an employee in the casino cage and claimed to be the owner of the hotel, Derek Stevens.

The person on the phone asked for six-figures in cash as an emergency payment to the fire department for “safety devices.”

The ruse not only worked, it worked multiple times! A supervisor would go on to hand deliver a total of $1.2 million in payments of $314,000, $350,000, $500,000, and three smaller deposits to locations all around Sin City. Police said the woman believed she was indeed speaking with the hotel owner, having texted her manager as well as meeting with his attorney.

Police tracked the vehicle used in the theft, which belonged to Martinez’s aunt. Cops eventually searched the home, finding quite a bundle of cash. Some of those greenbacks included Circa-branded currency straps, police reported.

Officers then arrested Martinez at his gym on June 18. Almost $850,000 was recovered, but $314,000 remains unaccounted for.

“Although I love a good PR story, this isn’t one of them,” Circa CEO Derek Stevens said at the time.

Other Casino Theft Details Emerge

Beyond the Circa thefts, Martinez is believed to be responsible for similar theft attempts at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite and the Golden Nugget in Laughlin as well. As part of the plea deal, however, he only accepted guilt for the Circa case.

In March, a Eureka cage supervisor took $250,000 to a Las Vegas gas station to pay for what she believed was owed for hand sanitizer, according to Channel 8 News Now. Via phone, Martinez asked the employee to deposit $15,000 in a Bitcoin kiosk and later instructed her to head to a gas station to deliver the remaining cash.

Police say that Martinez was set to receive the cash, but after receiving a warning call from the casino, the employee returned to the property with the money. According to court documents, a fellow casino employee told her that her duties didn’t involve “handling payments from vendors or suppliers,” helping her avoid a costly mistake.