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Casino Robbery Mastermind Tried for Killings, Heists

11 January 2002

by Kim Smith

LAS VEGAS –- Jose Vigoa, the alleged mastermind behind a series of casino robberies and a double homicide, will be tried on a consolidated slate of charges July 8.

District Judge Kathy Hardcastle on Wednesday agreed to allow prosecutors to try Vigoa on charges from the June 2000 Bellagio heist at the same time they try him for robberies at the MGM Grand, Desert Inn and Mandalay Bay.

The judge also agreed that Chief Deputy District Attorneys David Roger and Frank Coumou can try Vigoa, 41, at the same time for the slayings of armored truck guards Richard Sosa, 47, and Gary Dean Prestidge II, 23, who were killed during a robbery at the Henderson Ross Dress-for-Less store.

Police believe Vigoa, 41, robbed the four hotels between June 1998 and June 2000 with the help of his two brothers-in-law and a fourth man.

Roger said Wednesday that he and defense attorneys have agreed to separate trials for Vigoa's brothers-in-law, Pedro Duarte and Luis Suarez.

Duarte, 37, faces seven counts in connection with the June 28, 1999, robbery of the Desert Inn, and Suarez, 37, faces 14 counts in connection with the robbery at the Bellagio.

The fourth suspect in the case, Oscar Sanchez Cisneros, 23, committed suicide in the Clark County Detention Center four months after his arrest in June 2000.

Roger said Vigoa, who is facing the death penalty if convicted in the murder case, will go to trial first.

"He's involved in all of the counts," Roger said. "He's the main player, and we do not want to give Jose Vigoa's attorneys a sneak peek at his case through the other two's trials."

Hardcastle is scheduled Jan. 14 to arraign Duarte and Vigoa on the most recent charges filed against them. She will also consider a defense motion to allow Suarez to be housed in the general population at the Clark County Detention Center at that time. He is currently being held in segregation, where he is locked up for 23 of every 24 hours.

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