Originally Posted by Mike and Maddog
There's more to the story. Heard on Mike and Mike this morning...
There is wiretap that has Wayne talking about the gambling ring before it was broke up.
There are reports that his wife bet $500,000 on games including $75k on the Super Bowl XL.
Gretzky talked about betting ring on wiretap
NHL legend discussed the operation but didn't place wagers, sources say
Thursday, February 09, 2006
BY RICK HEPP
State wiretaps in the unfolding NHL betting scandal caught Wayne Gretzky discussing the multimillion-dollar gambling operation run by his friend Rick Tocchet before the ring was dismantled Monday, according to law enforcement sources.
There is no evidence Gretzky made any bets, the sources said, but the secretly recorded phone calls show the hockey hall-of-famer knew about the gambling ring, and investigators are looking into whether he placed any wagers through his wife, Janet Jones.
Jones was among the gamblers who placed more than $1.7 million in wagers in the past six weeks with the ring allegedly run by Tocchet and a New Jersey state trooper. Jones put down $500,000 on games during that period, including $75,000 on last weekend's Super Bowl, sources said. She even wagered on which team would win the opening coin toss -- winning $5,000 with that bet.
The sources said authorities are considering whether to issue a subpoena ordering Gretzky to testify before a state grand jury. Gretzky is the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and Tocchet is one of his assistant coaches.
As the fast-moving investigation continued yesterday, State Police detectives also were checking into the possibility that at least one trooper may have known about the gambling operation and not reported it to division brass, the sources said.
The State Police charged Tocchet and Trooper James E. Harney on Monday with money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy for taking big-money bets on football and basketball games from NHL players and Gretzky's wife. Harney, who was suspended from his $75,477 a year job, also was charged with official misconduct for accepting wagers while patrolling the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Richard Nairn, vice president of communications for the Coyotes, declined to comment yesterday on Gretzky's knowledge of the case.
"Wayne spoke (Tuesday) night and we are done speaking at this time," Nairn said.
During a news conference Tuesday night, Gretzky said he had no knowledge of any gambling allegations until Tocchet called him Monday night. He also said his wife would speak to reporters at some point about allegations against her.
"The reality is, I'm not involved, I wasn't involved and I'm not going to be involved," Gretzky said. "Am I concerned for both of them? Sure there's concern from me. I'm more worried about them than me."
Among the dozen current NHL players implicated in the operation for betting on games are Los Angeles Kings center Jeremy Roenick and Boston Bruins center Travis Green, according to the sources.
New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello said he was confident none of his players was placing bets with Tocchet and Harney.
"I have complete comfort," Lamoriello said. "No one has approached me, asked me questions or brought to my attention that remote possibility."
Last night, Tocchet was granted an indefinite leave of absence by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Tocchet met with Bettman and requested the leave, which the commissioner agreed to as long as several conditions were met by the former All-Star player.
Tocchet must immediately cease all contact and communication with all 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 reserves 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.
"While we are conducting our own investigation, we have made clear to the law enforcement authorities in New Jersey that we will do nothing to interfere with their ongoing investigation."
Tocchet came to the meeting with his new attorney, Kevin Marino, who officially informed Bettman and former acting U.S. Attorney Robert Cleary of New Jersey of the pending charges that Tocchet is facing. Bettman appointed Cleary to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations that current players placed illegal bets with bookies.
Earlier in the day, Marino said, "The allegations that Rick Tocchet financed an illegal gambling operation involving organized crime figures are categorically false and irresponsible. Tocchet intends to fight these false charges with the same grit and resolve he displayed throughout his long and illustrious National Hockey League career."
The charges have blindsided the NHL, which is trying to lure fans back after a labor dispute scuttled last season.
"The commissioner gave me a very simple mandate," Cleary said. "He's directed me to do whatever I need to do to get to the bottom of this."
Cleary said his first task might be to sort through the avalanche of information that's been reported since the scandal broke.
"It's going to take a little bit of time for us to figure out what the facts are as opposed to the rumor and innuendo," he said.
John Hagerty, spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice, which seeks wiretaps and grand jury subpoenas for State Police investigations, declined comment.
Tocchet, an 18-year NHL veteran who is one of only two players in league history to have both 400 goals and 2,500 penalty minutes, played for six teams, including two stints with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tocchet, 41, and Harney, 40, first met when Tocchet played for the Flyers and Harney was a bartender at the Holiday Inn near the stadium complex in Philadelphia, law enforcement sources said. Tocchet and other NHL players would go to the bar after games, and the two struck up a friendship.