LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man is accused of posing as a Las Vegas hotel owner and convincing a casino employee to give him more than $1 million in bogus payments for fire safety equipment, documents the 8 News Now Investigators obtained Monday said.
Erik Gutierrez, 23, is charged with theft of more than $100,000, records said.
On June 17, Las Vegas Metro police responded to the Circa Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas for a report of a possible scam, documents said. 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 they 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.
Documents also indicate she believed she was meeting with the hotel owner’s attorney.
Detectives tracked the vehicle involved in the suspected theft, finding its registered owner. Police suspect the car belonged to Gutierrez’s aunt with whom he lives.
Police also surveilled the home, seeing a different car arrive and then leave with Gutierrez and another man in it. Police searched the car, finding no money it it.
Around the same time, police obtained a search warrant of the home, finding identification belonging to Gutierrez, a “large bag of U.S. currency bundled together with the name Circa written on the bundle,” and other items, they said.
Police arrested Gutierrez at a gym on Sunday, June 18, they said. They later recovered nearly $850,000. Police did not know as of the writing of his arrest report last week who was given the outstanding $314,000, they said. Another man in the car with Gutierrez before his arrest was not detained.
Judge Amy Ferreira set Gutierrez’s bail at $25,000 and ordered him to stay away from Circa and the Fremont Street Experience if he posts bond, documents said.
“Although I love a good PR story, this isn’t one of them,” Derek Stevens, CEO of Circa, said in a statement. “Circa Resort & Casino is cooperating with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in this investigation. We greatly appreciate their efforts to date and cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”
Gutierrez faces a similar charge out of Mesquite Justice Court. A judge there set bail at $20,000. A booking photo was not immediately available.
8 News Now was working to get more information about the second charge. As of Monday, only Gutierrez was charged in connection with the alleged scheme.