|02-09-2006, 05:17 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
Rick Tocchet Will Face NHL's Commissioner
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
Steve Sandberg's Report on Gambling Bust (MP3 file)
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Feb 8, 2006 3:48 pm US/Eastern
(1010 WINS) (Glendale, AZ) Rick Tocchet, Wayne Gretzky's close friend and top assistant coach, headed to New York to face NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after he was implicated as the financier of a nationwide sports betting ring.
In an investigation they called ``Operation Slapshot,'' New Jersey authorities said several NHL players, and Gretzy's wife, were among those placing bets, although not on hockey.
Gretzky, revered as hockey's greatest player and now in his first season as Phoenix Coyotes coach, said he was unaware of any gambling accusations until Tocchet called him Monday night.
``The sad thing about this whole scenario is that Rick is a wonderful person and a great guy, so I hope everything works out in his favor,'' Gretzky said after his team's 3-1 loss to Chicago on Tuesday night. ``It's hard because I love the guy. He's a great guy, you know. I just hope it all works out for him.''
He said his wife, actress Janet Jones, would at some point discuss the allegations against her.
``First of all, my wife is my best friend,'' Gretzky said. ``My love for her is deeper than anything. The reality is, I'm not involved, I wasn't involved and I'm not going to be involved. Am I concerned for both of them? Sure there's concern from me. I'm more worried about them than me. ... I'm trying to figure it all out.''
Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because no bettors have been publicly identified, told The Associated Press that Gretzky's wife was among those implicated. Gretzky said his wife was in California and they talked, but she did not speak about her involvement.
``We didn't get into it other than she was concerned about Rick and she felt it was a tough situation with him,'' Gretzky said.
When asked if she had placed bets for him, Gretzky said ``absolutely not.'' Except for trips to Las Vegas, Gretzky said he does not gamble.
State police Col. Rick Fuentes said an investigation into the New Jersey-based ring discovered the processing of more than 1,000 wagers, exceeding $1.7 million, on professional and college sports, mostly football and basketball.
The developments came at a sensitive time for the NHL, which is trying to win back fans after a season-long lockout and just days before many of its best players will showcase their talents at the Turin Olympics.
Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint Monday and was expected to travel to New Jersey to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy, Fuentes said.
A criminal complaint informs Tocchet of authorities' intention to formally charge him and the need for him to arrange to travel to New Jersey for charging, or face arrest.
``It's not a hockey-related issue, it's a football thing. And at this time, I can't comment any further,'' Tocchet said after the Coyotes practiced Tuesday.
Tocchet acknowledged that a New Jersey state trooper arrested in connection with the gambling ring case is his friend. Tocchet said he would cooperate with the investigation, but didn't answer when asked if he'd surrender to authorities.
``We understand that Mr. Tocchet's conduct in no way involved betting on hockey,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. ``And, while betting on football or other sports may be the pervasive issue, it in no way justifies poor judgment or otherwise alleged inappropriate conduct.''
Daly said the NHL was conducting its own investigation.
Authorities said Tocchet and state police Trooper James Harney were partners in the operation, with the former Philadelphia Flyers star providing the financing.
``Tocchet received illegal sports bets from wagers and funneled money back to New Jersey,'' Fuentes said.
Tocchet, one of three associate coaches on the Coyotes' staff, took over the head coaching duties for 10 days in December while Gretzky was with his dying mother.
The 41-year-old Tocchet played 18 years with six teams, including three seasons with the Coyotes from 1997-00. He's one of only four players in NHL history to collect 400 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes. Tocchet was a fan favorite wherever he played, including two stints with the Flyers (1984-92, 2000-02).
``I think everybody is surprised,'' Flyers center Peter Forsberg said. ``It's definitely not good for the sport to hear something like that.''
Harney, 40, was arrested Monday and has been suspended from the force. The eight-year police veteran was charged in an arrest warrant with official misconduct, promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. Another man accused of taking bets is James Ulmer, 40, who was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
Both men were free after posting 10 percent of their bail. Harney had $100,000 bail, Ulmer $50,000. The two were expected to be arraigned within two weeks.
The gambling ring had a connection with organized crime in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, Fuentes said. Starting Monday night, authorities seized property from Harney and Ulmer. State police seized $27,000 in currency, ``voluminous'' amounts of sports betting information and bank accounts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Fuentes said.
A look at people charged or otherwise implicated in an alleged New Jersey-based sports gambling ring.
_Rick Tocchet, associate coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. Tocchet, 41, played 18 NHL seasons between 1984 and 2002, including 11 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was a rare player who was both a tough enforcer and a talented scorer. He's one of only four players in NHL history to collect 400 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes. He was expected to be arraigned in Superior Court in Burlington County within two weeks on charges promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
_James Harney, 40, of Evesham Township, is an eight-year veteran of the state police. He made about $89,000 from the state in 2005. Authorities say he became friendly with Tocchet about 10 years ago when he was a bartender at a Philadelphia Holiday Inn that Tocchet frequented. After he was charged with official misconduct, promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy, he was suspended from the his job. He is free on $100,000 bail.
_James Ulmer, 40, of Woolwich Township, was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. Authorities said he funneled wagers to Tocchet. He is free on $50,000 bail.
_Janet Jones, 45, is the wife of all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky. An actress, she has appeared in ``The Flamingo Kid'' and ``A Chorus Line.'' Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said she was one of the bettors.
|02-09-2006, 08:50 AM||#2|
Formerly known as Dipso
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Paul Smith 70
Gretzky knew about gambling ring
Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky knew about a gambling ring involving his wife and assistant coach Rick Tocchet, law enforcement sources who cited state wiretaps told the Newark Star-Ledger.
The Star-Ledger reported in Thursday's editions that there is no evidence that Gretzky placed bets, but investigators are looking into whether his wife, Janet Jones, placed them for him.
Gretzky has said that he had no knowledge of the gambling ring.
"The reality is, I'm not involved, I wasn't involved and I'm not going to be involved," Gretzky said Tuesday. "Am I concerned for both of them? Sure, there's concern from me. I'm more worried about them than me."
Law enforcement officials told the New Jersey newspaper that Jones bet $500,000 in recent weeks, including $75,000 in Super Bowl wagers.
Tocchet, Gretzky's friend and assistant with the Coyotes, was granted an indefinite leave of absence Wednesday night by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, a day after New Jersey police accused him of financing a nationwide gambling operation that took bets from about a half-dozen current players, among other bettors.
Tocchet is expected to be arraigned in the next two weeks, and Gretzky could be subpoenaed to testify before a New Jersey grand jury, the Star-Ledger reported.
Jones hasn't made any public statements, but Gretzky said Tuesday that she would answer questions at some point.
Coyotes vice president of communications Richard Nairn declined to comment to the Star-Ledger about Gretzky's knowledge of the case.
The NHL Players' Association posted a message on a secure Web site Wednesday advising any player who is contacted by law enforcement authorities or the league to contact his lawyer "before talking to anyone," the Toronto Star reported.
Tocchet and his new attorney met with Bettman on Wednesday and officially informed the commissioner of the pending charges Tocchet is facing.
On the advice of attorney Kevin Marino, Tocchet wasn't prepared to respond to specific questions about the allegations, the NHL said in a news release. At the end of the meeting, Tocchet requested the leave of absence.
Bettman agreed to the leave as long as several conditions were met. Tocchet must immediately cease all contact and communication with NHL and team personnel and stay away for the duration of his leave. He will not be allowed to return without Bettman's consent.
The commissioner also reserved the right to change the terms of Tocchet's absence at any time.
"We view the charges against Mr. Tocchet in the most serious terms," Bettman said in a statement. "We have pledged our full cooperation to the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Attorney General's Office."
The NHL hired former federal prosecutor Robert J. Cleary, who headed the Unabomber case, to investigate Tocchet.
New Jersey authorities told the NHL on Wednesday that nothing has come to their attention that indicates the gambling activities relate in any way to league games. None of the players were identified in the complaint.
"While there is speculation as to which other NHL personnel may have been involved in this matter, we continue to await guidance in that regard from the New Jersey law enforcement authorities," Bettman said.
State police Col. Rick Fuentes said an investigation into the New Jersey-based ring discovered the processing of more than 1,000 wagers, exceeding $1.7 million over several weeks, on professional and college sports, mostly football and basketball.
Marino called the state's charges against his new client "false and irresponsible."
"Mr. Tocchet is one of the most well-respected men ever to play in the NHL, and he's respected for his integrity, his determination and his strength," the Newark-based lawyer said. "We deeply regret the attorney general's precipitous charges and are appalled at the ensuing media frenzy."
Cleary was the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey from 1999-2002 and in the Southern District of Illinois in 2002. he also was the lead prosecutor from 1996-98 in the case against Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, who was sentenced to four lifetimes in prison on charges related to three deaths and the maiming of two scientists.
New Jersey State Police Lt. Gerald Lewis said police investigators will interview other hockey players to get a sense of the scope of the gambling ring and to determine whether others should be charged.
Lewis said authorities also were exploring links between the gambling and Philadelphia-area mobsters. He said the investigation so far has turned up only that there might be some links, but authorities are unsure.
He also declined to reveal which players will be interviewed.
Hockey players are prohibited from making wagers on NHL games, legal or otherwise. There are no rules that forbid them from betting legally on other sports (for instance, with an established Las Vegas book).
The Associated Press contributed to this report
|02-09-2006, 12:37 PM||#3|
Scrip Club Rebellion
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Rideau Lakes, Ontario
They were saying on the sports radio here in Ottawa this morning that Janet won on the coin flip bet for the super bowl. Her bet? $5000!!!
Supposedly all betting was only on football, or at least that's what Rick Tocchet said to a reporter before the gag was put on and his "leave of absence" was granted.
Rumors abound as which players, who are still actively playing in the NHL, were involved in the gambling ring. Some of the names I've heard are threatening legal action towards any media source that ties their names to this scandal. But most of the players were former teammates of Tocchet's when he was in Philly, and they were big name players.
But the biggest name tied to all this will be Gretz. Hope his image won't be tarnished that badly. Afterall how many of us made side bets on sports?? However, if the link to betting on hockey is verified, then throw the lot of them in with Pete Rose and be done with it. But for now I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.