LAS VEGAS — A federal jury convicted a Las Vegas police officer Friday of all counts of theft of nearly $165,000 during a trio of casino robberies, including one in which he was armed with a department-issued weapon he was loaded.
Caleb Rogers, 35, faces life in prison after being sentenced for brandishing a revolver during the third casino heist he carried out in February 2022. US District Judge Andrew Gordon set his sentence for October.
The jury reached a verdict after just over three hours of deliberation.
The jurors used common sense in deciding the case, Lloyd Dickerson, one of the 12, told The Associated Press.
“It all added up,” Dickerson said outside the courthouse. «It took all the evidence and all the testimony from everyone to come to this conclusion.»
Sitting next to his attorney, Rogers showed no emotion as the verdict was read out in the courtroom. Richard Pocketer told the AP that they planned to appeal the conviction.
Rogers, who was employed as an active duty patrol officer at the time of the holdups, has been on unpaid leave without police powers since his arrest.
A spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said after the verdict that Rogers’ future with the department «will be determined at the end» of an internal investigation. The department said it had no comment on Rogers’ conviction.
The case went to the jury Thursday shortly after Rogers’ younger brother testified against him for more than three hours, painting a clear picture for jurors of how the two successfully pulled off the first heist of the series. Josiah Rogers said that he alone participated in that robbery. Caleb Rogers carried out the other two robberies alone, prosecutors said.
Throughout the week-long trial, prosecutors portrayed Rogers as a gambling addict who had grown increasingly desperate under the pressure of debt when the casino robberies on the Las Vegas Strip began. They said that he had a unique set of skills and knowledge about robberies as a law enforcement officer and that he used that to his advantage.
Jurors also heard from casino employees who said they are still haunted by his encounters with the thief. A security guard struggled with the suspect over his loaded gun during one of the holdups. He said that he couldn’t stop thinking about how he didn’t come home to his family that day. And a 63-year-old teller said she still looks over her shoulder when she handles cash at work.
Assistant US Attorney David Kiebler said in his closing argument Thursday that the evidence in all three robberies pointed to the same man: Caleb Rogers.
But Pocker, the officer’s lawyer, said most of the government evidence was circumstantial and convenient for a police department that had already been trying for months, to no avail, to solve the other burglaries when Rogers was arrested.
“They tried too hard here,” Pocketer said in his closing argument. «It’s too much of a coincidence.»
Rogers’ trial came to a head Thursday when his brother took the stand.
Josiah Rogers was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. Jurors wrote notes and glanced at each other as Josiah Rogers recounted the details.
He said they rehearsed for their casino heist in November 2021. They used keywords in an encrypted messaging app to communicate, he said. They returned to their shared apartment after successfully robbing the Red Rock Casino cashier’s cage and scattering the money on the dining room table, counting $73,810.
Josiah Rogers said he took his share of $30,000 and moved back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, a week after the robbery.
Before he took the stand, government evidence had focused primarily on the third robbery in February 2022, when Caleb Rogers was arrested outside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Prosecutors said Caleb Rogers broke into that casino’s sports book, pushed a cashier in her 60s and threatened to use a weapon as she stuffed $79,000 into a drawstring bag hidden inside her jacket.
Within minutes, prosecutors said, the robber was accosted by a group of security guards outside the casino, a wig he was wearing flying off his head.
Police flap video played during the trial showed Caleb Rogers identifying himself as a police officer as he was herded into the back of a patrol car outside the casino.
Casino robberies are difficult to pull off, said Mehmet Erdem, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose experience includes hotel and casino operations.
“The chances of getting caught and identified are very high,” he said, due to a combination of strong casino security teams with uniformed guards and plainclothes officers and advances in security technology, including facial recognition software and high definition cameras.