Skip to comments.Six more troopers heard on wiretaps (Gretzky Gambling Investigation)
Posted on 02/11/2006 10:02:41 PM PST by Coleus
Investigators suspect that at least six New Jersey state troopers were recorded on wiretaps, calling in bets to a bookmaking ring allegedly run by a National Hockey League coach and another trooper, a source familiar with the probe said Friday.
The state police also suspended a trooper for allegedly failing to report the illegal betting ring to his superiors, a law enforcement official said. Michael Kaiser, a sergeant assigned to the Garden State Parkway, was suspended late Thursday for violating the agency's rules. He was not charged with any crimes, officials said.
State police investigators are now trying to determine the identities of troopers suspected of betting with the ring and gauging their level of involvement with the bookmaking operation, the source said. Personal gambling habits have created problems for New Jersey troopers before. Gambling was identified as a contributing factor in as many as 50 internal state police investigations of troopers who broke the agency's rules in 2005, the source said.
Some of those cases involved troopers who faced bankruptcy, mounting debts and court judgments -- as well as marital or other relationship difficulties -- linked to gambling, the source said. One such case occurred in 2004, the source said, when a loan shark walked into the Bloomfield barracks and spoke with a supervisor about a trooper who owed him money. The loan shark allegedly told the supervisor that the trooper owed him $140,000, the source said.
The trooper left the agency soon after the incident, the source said. Capt. Al Della Fave, a state police spokesman, said Friday night that he could not immediately confirm or deny any information about the Bloomfield incident because he had no access to agency files after hours. Della Fave said he did not believe gambling problems were an underlying factor in as many as 50 of the agency's internal investigations. The state police announced the existence of the bookmaking operation on Tuesday, saying it ran a sophisticated system that handled bets on collegiate and professional football and basketball.
Authorities said the gambling ring was allegedly operated by James Harney, a trooper assigned to the New Jersey Turnpike, and Rick Tocchet, an associate coach of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, the ring's alleged financier. In one 40-day period, more than 1,000 wagers, totaling more than $1.7 million, were placed by clients nationwide, officials said. Some clients allegedly placed their bets by calling Harney's cellphone while he patrolled the turnpike in his police cruiser, officials said.
David Jones, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, said the probe did not begin with a focus on hockey players or state police. "This was never about the NHL and the New Jersey State Police," Jones said. "This is the result of a pure, unadulterated gambling investigation." Investigators recorded hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky discussing the probe with Tocchet, speculating that his wife would evade prosecution, a person with knowledge of the probe has said.
However, nothing in the conversation with Tocchet suggests that Gretzky tried to obstruct the criminal probe, which allegedly uncovered numerous sports bets placed by his wife, Janet Jones, the person said. Existence of the wiretapped phone conversation between Gretzky, who is the Coyotes' managing partner and head coach, and Tocchet was confirmed by two sources familiar with the investigation. Gretzky seemed concerned about his wife and was "commiserating" with Tocchet during the wiretapped call, the source said. The two hockey coaches allegedly speculated that investigators would never prosecute a gambling ring that involved a trooper, the source said.
State police detectives also want to interview Jones, an actress, about her alleged bets, sources said. Jones was recorded on many occasions by the wiretap, sources said. The state police investigation, however, was not focused on targeting professional hockey players, the source said. "The state police were more interested in taking out this trooper than in going after some NHL players," the source said.
Gretzky will reportedly fly to Turin, Italy, on Sunday in his capacity as the executive director of the Canadian men's hockey team. There, he plans to hold a media conference to clarify his position regarding the gambling ring, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.
I thought NJ State troopers were all 'escorts' for the syndicate.
'cause the state and politicians don't get their cut on illegal gambling.
Well, at least the pols don't get their cut above board.
Please FReepmail me to get on or off this Canada ping list.
Is knowledge of possible illegal sports betting activity by your wife sufficient to get a hockey offical banned?
hockey wouldn't ban 99 if he were shown murdering a baby on live tv.
I think Gretzkey's wife had a better chance of going into the Hall of Fame than Tocchet.