2/7/2006 12:43:00 PM
EWING, N.J. (AP) - Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet financed a nationwide sports gambling ring in which about a dozen current NHL players placed bets, authorities said Tuesday.
Tocchet, a former NHL star, was served with a criminal complaint Monday and was expected to travel from his Arizona home to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy, state police Col. Rick Fuentes said.
Fuentes said an investigation into the New Jersey-based ring discovered the processing of more than 1,000 wagers, exceeding $1.7 million US, on professional and college sports, mostly football and baseball. He declined to identify the NHL players who made wagers.
Authorities said Tocchet and state police Trooper James J. Harney were partners in the operation, with the ex-NHL forward providing the financing.
A message left with the Coyotes' media office in Arizona was not immediately returned. The Coyotes were home Tuesday night against Chicago.
Tocchet, one of three associate coaches on the Coyotes' staff, took over the head coaching duties for 10 days in December while Wayne Gretzky was away to be with his dying mother.
The 41-year-old Tocchet played 18 years with six teams, including three seasons with the Coyotes from 1997-2000. He is one of only two players in NHL history to collect 400 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes during his career.
The 40-year-old Harney was arrested Monday. 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 A. Ulmer, 40, who was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
Both men were free on bail. They are expected to be arraigned within two weeks.