Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hockey betting: This is getting really ugly

The Great One in a gambling scandal?
This is getting really ugly in a hurry.
FOR FIVE YEARS, authorities say, New Jersey State Trooper James J. Harney and James A. Ulmer were two-fisted bookies, using up to five cell phones apiece allegedly to take wagers of tens of thousands of dollars from their affluent and famous clientele across the country.
Financing their illegal sports-betting operation, allegedly, was one of the most popular Flyers of all time: combative right winger and four-time All-Star Rick Tocchet, now 41 and an associate coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.
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, New Jersey State Police Col. Rick Fuentes said. The complaint informs Tocchet of authorities' intention to formally charge him.
The betting operation allegedly paid off the mob, making "tribute" payments to one-time underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino until he was jailed in 2004, and then to others, a New Jersey law-enforcement official said.
One superstar bettor was Wayne Gretzky, hockey's "Great One" and Tocchet's boss, who allegedly was placing heavy bets through Gretzky's wife, supermodel-actress Janet Jones, to both Harney and Ulmer, according to New Jersey law-enforcement sources.
"Oh, really? I don't know. You'd have to ask her that," said Gretzky, the Coyotes' head coach and part owner, when asked by a reporter about his wife placing bets. He did not return calls from the Daily News about whether he'd placed bets through her.

Just what hockey needs now, eh?