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Third man gets two years probation for running sports gambling ring

James Ulmer, 42, was charged with conspiracy and promoting gambling and faced six months to a year in county jail under a plea agreement for his role in the bookmaking operation with links to the NHL and the Phoenix Coyotes.

Ulmer, a businessman from the South Jersey town of Swedesboro, agreed in his plea deal to co-operate with authorities and forfeit about US$45,000 in gambling proceeds.

Judge Thomas S. Smith Jr. told Ulmer he would avoid jail if he stays out of trouble for the next two years.

Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, former state trooper James Harney and Ulmer were charged in the case. Tocchet was sentenced last week to two years' probation after pleading guilty to the same charges as Ulmer. He has been on leave from the Coyotes since the charges were announced in February 2006.

In the 40 days prior to the filing of the charges, the ring handled $1.7 million in bets, including college football bowl games and the Super Bowl, authorities said.

Harney, who was forced to give up his badge, was sentenced earlier this month to five years in prison.

Tocchet's involvement in sports betting triggered an investigation within the NHL, ordered by commissioner Gary Bettman. NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur said lawyer Robert Cleary has not completed the inquiry.

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