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Trooper in sports gambling case with former hockey player to be sentenced

While Rich Tocchet, retired NHL player and assistant coach with Phoenix, was the big name in the case, the trooper, James Harney, was the biggest catch for authorities.

He pleaded guilty on Aug. 3, 2006, and faces up to seven years in prison for conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct. His lawyer, Craig Mitnick, was planning to argue for a less severe sentence.

When he entered his plea deal, the 41-year-old Harney said that he and Tocchet were equal partners in the ring they had run together for five years.

Tocchet and a third man, James Ulmer, later pleaded guilty. They're due to be sentenced later this month and could avoid prison under the terms of their plea deals.

The ring became one of the biggest stories in hockey when the men were charged in February 2006 because authorities said several of the bettors were people connected to the game.

But the only name revealed among them was Janet Jones Gretzky, the wife of Wayne Gretzky. Authorities said early on that neither she nor other bettors would be charged.

In the investigation that followed, authorities and hockey officials have said there's no evidence that there was any betting on hockey.

But the betting was heavy on other sports. In the 40 days that led up to the charges, the ring handled US$1.7 million in bets, including college football bowl games and the Super Bowl.

The business was lucrative for Harney while it lasted. When he was arrested, police took 32 watches and nine televisions from his home.


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