Sentencing postponed for cop in gambling ring case

Updated: October 23, 2006, 6:56 PM ET
Associated Press

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. -- The New Jersey state trooper who admitted helping run a betting ring involving several NHL figures will not be sentenced this week, as originally scheduled.

James Harney pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct for running a sports-betting ring. Authorities say he was a partner in the ring with former NHL star and coach Rick Tocchet.

When the two, along with another man, were charged in February, it was huge news in the hockey world. NHL officials hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an investigation and said that there were no bets placed on hockey games.

Tocchet, an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes, took an indefinite leave of absence from that job.

Authorities said several people with NHL ties were bettors, including Janet Jones, the wife of hockey legend and Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky. Neither Jones nor other bettors are expected to be charged with any crimes.

Harney agreed to a sentence of up to seven years in state prison. Originally, punishment was to be meted out Oct. 27. But Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's office, said Monday the court appearance would be postponed. He did not give a reason.

Harney's lawyer, Craig Mitnick, said his client won't be sentenced until he has finished his obligation to cooperate with the state's case against Tocchet.

"I do not expect that Jim Harney will be sentenced until one of two things happens: Rick Tocchet is indicted and pleads guilty or Jimmy Harney testifies in the trial of Rick Tocchet," Mitnick said.

Tocchet's lawyer, Kevin Marino, did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Monday afternoon.

Edwin Jacobs, the lawyer for the third man charged in the case, businessman James Ulmer, was on vacation, according to a receptionist in his office.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press