Trooper charged in gambling ring to appear in court

Updated: August 1, 2006, 5:11 PM ET
Associated Press

A state trooper charged with running a massive gambling ring with retired hockey star Rick Tocchet and another man is due in court Thursday, his lawyer said.

Attorney Craig Mitnick, would not say why his client, James Harney, would be in New Jersey state Superior Court -- only that he was scheduled to appear before a judge in Mount Holly.

Tocchet, Harney and James Ulmer were charged in February with running a gambling ring. The story rocked the hockey world when authorities said that Janet Jones Gretzky, the wife of Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, and several current NHL players placed bets with the ring. Neither Jones nor other alleged bettors have been charged -- but some were expected to be called to testify before a grand jury looking into the case.

So far, though, a grand jury has not convened, state police Capt. Al Della Fave said Tuesday.

Authorities said the ring had been running for years but was monitored by state investigators for only 40 days, from Dec. 29 through Feb. 5, a period when they say $1.7 million changed hands.

Authorities said the betting was on the Super Bowl and other sporting events. NHL officials, who are conducting their own investigation, say that no players appeared to have bet on their own sport.

Harney and Tocchet, both 40, became friendly more than a decade ago when Harney was a bartender at a bar in Philadelphia and Tocchet was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

After they were charged, Harney was suspended from the state police and Tocchet took an indefinite leave of absence from his job as the top assistant to head coach Gretzky with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Tocchet, Harney and Ulmer face charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.

Harney, who lives in Evesham, was also charged with official misconduct.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press