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Illegal sports gambling ring busted, NHL coach charged
The New Jersey state attorney general dropped a bombshell on the hockey world today by charging current Phoenix Coyotes assistant-coach Rick Tocchet and two New Jersey State Troopers on charges relating to illegal sports gambling. Rick Tocchet, a 41-year-old former hockey player who is an assistant coach with the Coyotes, was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. James Harney, a 40-year-old New Jersey state trooper was charged with official misconduct, promoting gambling and money laundering. James Ulmer, 40, of Swedesboro, New Jersey was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. These charges come after an investigation that began last fall and are being refered by the authorities as "Operation Slap Shot". Reports indicate that the state police were able to infiltrate the gambling syndicate and collected detailed evidence.
The investigation will now include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and it is possible that the feds will also press charges. Though exact details of who is involved here were not released, reports indicate that 6-12 current NHL players and celebrities. There are reports that one of the people who may have placed illegal bets was none other than Janet Gretzky, wife of Coyotes coach, part owner and hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Though the authorities have not divulged too many details, they do not believe that any of the NHL players involved bet on hockey games. Most of the betting action seems to have been on NFL and NBA games. What's scary though are the alleged links to organized crime. Some experts believe that this gambling ring had been in operation for five years and may have had ties to the Bruno-Scarfo crime family of La Cosa Nostra.
The next few days should see many more details being released. This is not the type of publicity the NHL needed in a year when it was trying to make a comeback from a lost year of hockey.
This story seems to be moving very fast and more details are now available.
- Wayne Gretzky's wife (Janet Jones Gretzky) is reported to have wagered $500,000 with this syndicate in the past 40 days. In there was a $75,000 bet on the Superbowl, including $5,000 on the coin toss!
- AP is also reporting that Wayne Gretzky has been recorded in one of the wiretaps, asking the person on the other end to keep his wife out of this.
- Speculation is rife on which hockey players have bet with this syndicate. The names of Jeremy Roenick and Travis Green are been thrown around.