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Category: Casinos

Family of taxi driver killed in Vegas Strip shooting sues suspect

Ammar HarrisThe family of a taxi driver killed in a wreck that followed a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip last month has sued the self-described pimp accused in the crime.

Michael Boldon's son and estate filed the negligence lawsuit Monday in Las Vegas against Ammar Harris, the man prosecutors have charged with shooting and killing Oakland rapper Kenneth Cherry Jr.; cab driver Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund cab died when Cherry's out-of-control Maserati struck the taxi. 

Prosecutors say the shooting occurred after a verbal altercation between Harris and Cherry at the Aria Casino. Harris allegedly shot and killed Cherry as the two drove along Las Vegas Boulevard near the Flamingo Boulevard intersection, sending the latter's vehicle into Boldon's taxi and causing it to explode into flames.

PHOTOS: Shots fired on the Las Vegas Strip

"The early nature of the lawsuit is to get subpoena power so we get information about what occurred," said attorney Lawrence J. Smith. Because of the criminal investigation, the family has found it difficult to get basic information about the crash. "We don't even know the make of vehicle he was driving that night," Smith said of Boldon.

"He was an innocent bystander. He wasn't a pimp or rapper. He was a man earning a living caring for his family," said Tehran Boldon of his brother, who moved to Las Vegas two years ago to help take care of his ailing 93-year-old mother.

Harris, 26, allegedly fled Las Vegas after the Feb. 21 shooting but was captured Thursday at a Studio CIty apartment. He appeared Monday in a Los Angeles courtroom hearing, during which a judge scheduled a extradition hearing March 14.

The suit also names the unidentified manufacturer of the taxi as a defendant. Smith said he has been told the vehicle was not a gas or propane vehicle and said the family has not been provided an explanation for the explosion of flames.

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Photo: Las Vegas shooting suspect Ammar Harris. Credit: Las Vegas Police Department

Missing woman found dead in SUV in casino parking lot

A murder investigation was continuing Monday after the body of a missing woman was found in the back of her SUV at a casino.

The 57-year-old victim’s family made the grim discovery around 9 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino. They had searched at several other locations before the casino, police said.

Investigators searched for clues in the victim’s red Toyota RAV4. Authorities said it appears the woman was killed somewhere else, and the vehicle was then driven to the casino lot and left there.

Police say the woman lived in West Covina with her husband and daughter. She worked as a nurse and was last seen leaving work Friday in Los Angeles, but she never made it home, KTLA-TV reported.

Investigators examined casino surveillance video to try to pinpoint the time the woman’s SUV was left there. Police also hope an autopsy  will uncover more clues about her death.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Division at (323) 890-5500.

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San Bernardino County experts find saber-tooth fossils near Vegas

The Tule Springs region north of Las Vegas were where saber-tooth cat fossils were found in June; A distal radius — limb bone — from a saber-tooth cat. Source: San Bernardino County Museum.

Smilodon distal radiusPaleontologists from San Bernardino County Museum found fossils of the elusive saber-toothed cat in the Nevada desert north of Las Vegas.

The team from the museum, which is based in Redlands, has spend more than a decade combing through the Las Vegas Wash area in Tule Springs looking for fossils from the Ice Age.

Despite uncovering thousands of fossils at more than 400 sites, the scientists found little evidence of the saber-tooth — Smilodon fatalis — until June, when two broken limb bones were discovered.

"We’re ecstatic," said Kathleen Springer, senior curator at the San Bernardino County Museum and lead scientist on the project. "We knew that they should be there. But they are rare, that’s why we’re so happy.’’

The bones were identified by Eric Scott, the museum's curator of paleontology, who compared them to saber-tooth fossils found at the La Brea Tar Pits to confirm they came from the large Ice Age cat. A radiocarbon analyses dates the fossils to approximately 15,000 years ago.

The San Bernardino County Museum won a grant from the Bureau of Land Management in 2008 to begin the excavation. The museum's paleontologists are experts on the late Pleistocene era, the tail end of the Ice Age, when the Las Vegas Valley was filled with meadows, marshes, flowing springs and rivers, Springer said.

"Just picture Las Vegas looking nothing like it is today," Springer said. "There were conifers on the valley floor. There were herds of beasts wandering around. There was water, and foliage for them to feed upon."

Nearly half the fossil sites found in the wash area contain mammoth fossils, she said. The excavation site is within sight of Las Vegas casinos and new communities that sprouted up in north Las Vegas during the real estate boom before the recession.

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Photos: The Tule Springs region north of Las Vegas were where saber-tooth cat fossils were found in June; A distal radius — limb bone — from a saber-tooth cat. Source: San Bernardino County Museum.

Man wanted in $1.6-million Las Vegas casino chip heist is arrested

Akingide ColeA man accused of stealing $1.6 million in chips from a Las Vegas casino was awaiting extradition to Nevada after his arrest near his mother's Southern California home, authorities said.

Las Vegas police confirmed Akingide Cole, 31, was taken into custody Oct. 24 by deputies from San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. The Palmdale man was wanted on suspicion of grand larceny, burglary and possession of burglary tools in connection with the Oct. 10 theft.

That's when authorities say Cole walked into a restricted area of the Venetian casino and stole $1.6 million in high-value chips.

He didn't use a weapon and didn't come in contact with any witnesses or security guards, Las Vegas Police Officer Laura Meltzer said. But security cameras captured the incident, and investigators used the images to identify Cole as their suspect given his "very distinct" appearance.

Cole has what police described as a "large fibrous growth" on his left earlobe. He was also previously arrested by Las Vegas police in 2011 for possession of a controlled substance, Meltzer said.

A tip "generated by media coverage" led to Cole's arrest, Las Vegas police said.

After Cole was apprehended, Las Vegas detectives went to California and found more than $396,000 worth of the stolen chips. Last week, police said, Venetian security officers found one of the burglary tools inside a gaming parlor room.

Online jail records indicated Cole was still in a Los Angeles County jail Wednesday morning. It was unclear when he would be extradited.

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Photo: Akingide Cole. Credit: Las Vegas Police Department

Man stole $1.6 million in chips from Las Vegas casino, police say

Akingide ColeWhat happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there.

Authorities are looking for a Palmdale man who they believe went into a restricted area of the Venetian casino and stole $1.6 million in high-value chips, Las Vegas police said Monday. 

The suspect, identified as Akingide Cole, 31, allegedly took the chips just after 6 a.m. on Oct. 10, authorities said. He's now wanted on suspicion of grand larceny, burglary and possession of burglary tools, Officer Laura Meltzer said.

Cole didn't use a weapon in the alleged incident and didn't come in contact with any witnesses or security guards, Meltzer said. Casino security cameras captured the incident and investigators used the images to identify Cole as their suspect given his "very distinct" appearance, she added.

Cole has what police described as a "large fibrous growth" on his left earlobe. He was also previously arrested by Las Vegas police in 2011 for possession of a controlled substance, Meltzer said.

But the chances of the suspect cashing in on the theft are slim, said Jerry Markling, chief of the Nevada Gaming Commission's enforcement division. High-value chips are typically circulated among a small group of top players known by casinos.

"It'd be fairly difficult to cash in high-denomination chips simply because most of the licensees know who their players are who receive those types of chips," he said. "Anybody just can't walk up to a cage window and cash in a $1,000 or $5,000 chip."

Casinos also have more than one set of chips that can be used after a theft, Markling said. If someone tried to play with a different-styled chip, he would stand out, making it "that much more difficult" for thieves.

Police described Cole as a 6-foot-tall, 225-pound black man who has a goatee and short dark hair styled in a "semi-mohawk."

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Photo: Akingide Cole. Credit: Las Vegas Police Department

Steve Wynn awarded $20 million in Joe Francis court case

Steve Wynn Joe Francis

A Los Angeles jury on Monday awarded casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million, after it found that he had been defamed by "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis.

Wynn had sued Francis over the latter's claims that Wynn had threatened to have him killed and buried in the desert. Testifying last week, Wynn called the accusation a "terrible lie" that could potentially hurt his reputation and that of his eponymous company.

"He's unrepentant, vicious, out-of-control," Wynn said of Francis.

But since Wynn filed suit in 2010, Francis has maintained that the threat was real. He said music mogul Quincy Jones, his neighbor and a longtime friend of Wynn's, told him that Wynn wanted Francis dead in an email.

In court, Jones said that Wynn never threatened to kill Francis, and that Jones had never told Francis that Wynn had.

Francis' team has never produced the email; Wynn said that's because it doesn't exist.

The Wynn-Francis feud stretches over a number of years and multiple lawsuits. Francis attorney David Houston has suggested that their fraught history is what riled Wynn enough to threaten Francis.

Francis made the death-threat accusations while warring with Wynn over a roughly $2-million gambling debt Francis had racked up. Francis and Wynn also battled in court over Francis' accusations that he was plied with prostitutes and drugs during his betting spree. (A Nevada judge sided with Wynn in a lawsuit over those claims.)

In questioning Wynn, Houston tried to prove that the mogul, considered a sort of elder statesman in the gaming industry, was capable of spouting off threats. Houston played part of an interview from the 1980s in which Wynn told TV reporter Meredith Vieira that he'd choke her if she didn't include certain information in her report.

"I think you heard her laugh," Wynn said.

"Or gasp," Houston replied.

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Photo: Joe Francis, left, and Steve Wynn. Credit: Associated Press file photos

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