Trooper charged in gambling ring resigns from police

Updated: August 2, 2006, 3:55 PM ET
Associated Press

A day before he was to appear in court, a New Jersey state trooper charged with running a gambling ring resigned Wednesday from the state police.

Trooper James Harney said in a letter posted on his lawyer's Web site that "my personal judgment has been severely flawed" and apologized for "the disgrace which I have placed upon the Division, myself and my family."

In the letter, Harney didn't spell out exactly what he did wrong.

Authorities say he helped former hockey star Rick Tocchet and a third man run a gambling ring whose bettors included several current NHL players and Janet Jones, the wife of retired star Wayne Gretzky. None of the bettors were likely to be charged, officials have said, but their alleged involvement made a run-of-the-mill gambling bust into a huge sports headline.

NHL officials say they do not believe any of the bets in the alleged ring were on hockey games.

Neither Harney's lawyer, Craig Mitnick, nor state law enforcement officials would say why he had a court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

In his letter to state police Col. Rick Fuentes, Harney was vague but contrite: "The scar that I have placed upon the Division is inexcusable and was never contemplated by me. My actions must be judged personally and should not reflect upon any of your members as they are good, honest and hardworking individuals."

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

After they were charged in February, Harney was suspended from the state police and Tocchet took an indefinite leave of absence from his job as the top assistant coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, who are led by Gretzky.

Both of them, along with James 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