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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 3  

 

Novel approach: Halting a Vegas crime spree

By GAYLE ERWIN McDOWELL ’77

As a boy growing up in Chicago, JOHN ALAMSHAW ’77 had two television favorites: cops-and-robbers shows and Westerns. As an adult, his career with the Las Vegas Metro police force has been every bit as dramatic — and probably more so — than the TV shows that fascinated him.

Storming Las Vegas, a nonfiction book published by Random House last year, features the Bradley alumnus as a lead character. “A murderous Soviet-trained mercenary with heavy weapons versus an American cop with smarts and style” is how former CBS News president Van Gordon Sauter describes the plot on the book jacket. Author John Huddy focuses on a trio of ruthless criminals and Lt. Alamshaw’s role in ending their 18-month violent crime spree in Vegas, a tale the Wall Street Journal calls “harrowing.”

Released in paperback in April, negotiations are underway to make Storming Las Vegas into a movie. When production begins, Alamshaw will serve as technical consultant. “The story isn’t a fictional Oceans Eleven,” he says. “It highlights a real case, and it’s interesting the criminals were married to three sisters, making it a family affair.”

When the brazen daytime crimes began in 1998, an ad agency had yet to come up with the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan; rather the city was being marketed as a family destination. The violent crime spree stayed out of the national news, but stopping it became a priority for the tourist mecca.

John Alamshaw '77

“Go west, young man” is just what JOHN ALAMSHAW ’77 did, joining the Las Vegas Metro police force. His persistence as the lieutenant in charge of the robbery division is a theme of the crime thriller, Storming Las Vegas. Now retired from the force, Alamshaw is a private investigator and security consultant in Las Vegas. Photo by Sandra Stevens.

 

Alamshaw knows the story of the casino robberies and murders inside and out — he lived it. Mastermind Jose Vigoa, a Cuban refugee and ex-con, began his siege on the entertainment capital of the world in September 1998. First was a robbery at the MGM Grand. Next was a shootout on the Strip in June 1999, after the robbery of Brinks guards at the Desert Inn. Robberies followed at Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, and the Bellagio. Between the final casino robberies was a shootout with armored car employees in nearby Henderson. Two guards were shot and killed on a sunny March morning in 2000.

“Vigoa was very hard, very cold,” Alamshaw says. “He is different from most criminals. He didn’t have concerns about killing because it was all about business to him.” Twice, Vigoa tried to escape from jail. Eight SWAT officers were in place for his court appearances. Vigoa is serving a life sentence in Nevada without the possibility of parole.

Career path

Majoring in the administration of criminal justice, Alamshaw has fond memories of Bradley and his fraternity, Delta Upsilon. DR. LES BRUNE, MA ’50 was his adviser. “He was a great guy and gave a lot of good advice.” Brune was also DU’s adviser, and Alamshaw recalls he and his wife DR. JOAN BRUNE, MA ’65 entertained the fraternity brothers at their home every year.

Following graduation from BU, Alamshaw attended Chicago’s police academy and worked as a patrol officer in Morton Grove for three years. Sunshine and the allure of the West prompted him to apply to police departments in three cities. “Las Vegas called me first,” the Senn High School grad recalls, looking back to October 1981. After scoring in the top 20 of 1,000 applicants, he reported to the police academy in Vegas two weeks later. At the time, Las Vegas Metro had about 700 officers. As Las Vegas became America’s fastest growing city, the force grew to more than 2,500.

Alamshaw’s career path in Vegas began as a patrol officer, moved on to SWAT, and then advanced to sergeant. From there, he was transferred to the gang unit. As a narcotics sergeant, and later lieutenant, he was in charge of a federal task force for “big dope.” Alamshaw supervised four squads of narcotics officers. In 1996, he took over internal affairs as bureau commander. “There was very little corruption, but we did some major undercover investigations of police officers. The department was growing, and there were some growing pains.”

Next, he took on his favorite assignment, the job he held during the Vigoa crime spree. “I was in charge of robbery for Las Vegas for over three years,” Alamshaw says. Eventually he handled robbery and general assignment, supervising about 50 detectives who were “first responders” to crime scenes.

After 27 years as a cop, Alamshaw retired in December 2005 at age 50. At the time, he was the lieutenant in charge of violent crimes in Las Vegas. “I had a good career,” he says modestly. “I had done everything I wanted to do and reached the rank I wanted.”

Following his father’s lead, Alamshaw’s son is a police officer in Scottsdale. His daughter begins college in August. Now a licensed private investigator, Alamshaw concentrates on criminal cases — murder, robbery, and sexual assault. He has another role, as well. Names cannot be named, but with Alamshaw’s credentials, it is only logical that “high-end” clients rely on him as a security consultant.

 

Pilot to Vegas stars

By JUSTIN PHELPS ’05

MARTY ROLLINGER, MBA ’07 doesn’t work in a typical office. He doesn’t have bookshelves or stacks of papers. “My desk is behind the yoke of an airplane,” Rollinger said. “I literally don’t have a desk at work. My desk is a multi-million dollar airplane.”

Rollinger is a captain for Harrah’s Entertainment. The 48-year-old pilots a Falcon 2000EX EASy. His passengers are executives, customers, and entertainers for Harrah’s, Caesars Palace, Bally’s, and other properties run by Harrah’s. With technology similar to what is found in fighter jets, Rollinger uses four computer screens as he flies the aircraft.

“This is providing me a wonderful opportunity to work with great people and a great company, and it’s really in a different setting than I’ve ever worked. The entertainment world provides a new experience, and it’s allowing me to catch my breath,” said Rollinger, who lives with his wife Sheila in Henderson, Nev. They have three children.

Starting as a Marine Corps squadron pilot, Rollinger spent about 15 years in various roles with the military. In 2003, he joined the business sector as manager of aviation services at Caterpillar. Seeking academic credentials in business, Rollinger was a prime candidate for Bradley’s Executive MBA program, which separates itself from its MBA counterpart by seeking applicants with extensive managerial experience.

“I was confident in my academic abilities, confident in my technical abilities, but I wanted to strengthen my business experience,” Rollinger said. “I ran after this opportunity to do just that, and give myself some academic credentials in the business environment.”

While Dr. Ed Bond, associate professor of marketing, and Jack Russell, director of the EMBA program, were particularly influential, Rollinger said the program is more than just a textbook learning opportunity. “I’m an achiever, and that’s one of the things the program taught me,” said Rollinger. The EMBA program teaches you a lot about yourself.”

While his role as a pilot for Harrah’s is considerably different than his other jobs, he still uses knowledge gained from the EMBA program. “It helps me make better business decisions and to understand that our suppliers and vendors, whom I deal with a lot, are in the business to make money,” he said. “They have their own set of challenges and opportunities, and we’re just one of them. It helps me see the bigger picture within our company and business dealings.”