Two local men were arrested on suspicion of robbing a Helena casino at gunpoint after one of them attempted to redeem a stolen cash-out ticket.
Two masked men entered the Best Bet Casino on Euclid Avenue on July 22 and stole $500 while brandishing what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun and a .45-caliber handgun, court documents filed Tuesday state. The weapons turned out to be B.B. guns.
The clerk at the casino told investigators one of men, who was wearing a ski mask and sunglasses, approached her and asked for the till. She took the cash out of the drawer and the man asked for her wallet, the documents note. The clerk had $300 in her wallet.
The other man never entered the casino but rather stood watch outside, she told detectives.
According to court documents, the robbers also took tickets and receipts.
Later the next day, another employee of the casino called 911 to report a man had tried to redeem a cash-out ticket stolen in the robbery. The man, described as brown-haired and blue-eyed, left in a late-model Subaru. The employee noted the same man had returned to the casino earlier that morning to play machines.
When confronted about the ticket, the suspect said he had found it in the parking lot. The clerk noted someone had used White-Out correction fluid on the ticket to change the date.
That man was identified as Theodore Ebbie Dodge Jr., 40, of East Helena. Dodge is a parolee. He has prior convictions of burglary, theft and forgery.
Dodge is jailed on charges of robbery and burglary.
When questioned, Dodge told detectives he found the ticket in a duffel bag outside of the casino. The bag also contained a B.B. gun, he said. Dodge told an investigator the bag was in his car, adding "that don't look good," the documents note.
During the interview, Dodge admitted to being high on methamphetamine.
Later in the investigation, the duffel bag containing two B.B. guns and a black face mask were found in Dodge's car.
Detectives then questioned the second suspect, Thomas John Hansen, 46, of Helena. Hansen is on probation. He has previous convictions of drug dealing, drug possession and criminal endangerment.
A urinalysis found Hansen to be under the influence of meth and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Hansen told investigators he had syringes in the center console of his pickup. When authorities went to retrieve the needles, they also found more tickets from the robbery, court documents state.
A few days after the robbery, Dodge admitted to his involvement, court documents state. Dodge claimed to be the one who stayed at the door while holding a sawed-off B.B. shotgun.
Hansen also confessed to the robbery, the documents state. He said he entered the casino with a B.B. gun.
While investigating the robbery, evidence of a storage locker burglary the same day was uncovered. The duo is accused of breaking into a Cole Avenue building and stealing a compound bow, a fanny pack and bait.
Hansen is jailed on charges of robbery, burglary and criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Both men are being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.