TRENTON, N.J. - A year after state authorities busted a multi-million-dollar sports betting ring that implicated ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s wife as a bettor, the most high-profile suspect — former National Hockey League All-Star Rick Tocchet — remains in legal limbo.
While the two other men charged in the case have pleaded guilty, Tocchet has neither admitted guilt nor been indicted by a grand jury. The charges were announced with fanfare on Feb. 7, 2006 in what authorities dubbed “Operation Slapshot.”
While the case was a shock to many in ice hockey, NHL officials say there is no evidence of bets on that sport. Authorities have said bettors in the case will not be charged. Both Gretzky and his wife have denied any wrongdoing.
The New Jersey state Attorney General’s Office said this month that the investigation is active and proceeding normally. Even two changes in attorney general in just over a year have not slowed work on the high-profile case, said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the office.
Tocchet’s lawyer, Kevin Marino, did not return several phone calls seeking comment. His client, meanwhile, remains on indefinite leave from his job as an assistant coach to Gretzky on the Phoenix Coyotes.
Law experts not involved in the case say the length of time without an indictment after the charges were filed may be a sign of problems in the investigation or simply its complexity.
Authorities said that Tocchet, New Jersey State police officer James Harney, and a third man, James Ulmer, collected $1.7 million (euro1.31 million) in bets over a 40-day stretch in 2005 and 2006 that included college gridiron football bowl games and the pro American football championship. NHL officials say there is no evidence anyone in the ring wagered on ice hockey.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
When he entered his plea in August, Harney said the ring lasted about five years and that Ulmer and Tocchet both brought in gamblers and received portions of the proceeds.
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