Operation Slapshot

Friday, May 25, 2007

Guilty Plea Expected From Tocchet

Rick Hepp of The Star-Ledger is reporting that Rick Tocchet is expected to enter a guilty plea today in the Operation Slapshot case.

Tocchet, who took a leave of absence from his job as associate coach of the Phoenix Coyotes after the State Police busted the ring in February 2006, is expected to plead guilty to third-degree conspiracy and third-degree promoting gambling, according to two people with knowledge of the case. The presumption in third-degree crimes is no prison time for first offenders.

With prison avoided, the obvious question is: will he be back behind the bench for the Coyotes?  Also from the Star-Ledger:

It was not clear last night how Tocchet’s admission would affect his dealings with the NHL, where he is best known in this area for his two tours with the Philadelphia Flyers during his 18-year career. After he was charged, Tocchet was granted an indefinite leave of absence by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as long as Tocchet ceased all contact and communication with all NHL and team personnel.

So when/if he can return is unknown.  It’ll be interesting to see how the league deals with the situation.

Also, yesterday I wrote:

Additionally, Tocchet’s been suspended without pay from his job as assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The phrasing of that was similar to what was reported by many news outlets over the course of this story.  However, the Star-Ledger paints a different version of Tocchet’s absence and I wanted to point that out for clarification.

Posted by David M Singer on May 25, 2007 at 04:36 AM
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tocchet Scheduled to Make Court Appearance

Rick Tocchet is due in court tomorrow.

The state Attorney General’s Office announced the scheduled appearance. Spokesman David Wald would not say whether a plea deal has been reached in the case, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Tocchet’s attorney, Kevin Marino, declined comment.

Tocchet, 42, was charged, with much fanfare, in February 2006 with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.

The AP story has a key reminder:

More than 15 months after the charge, Tocchet had still not been indicted, or formally charged by a grand jury.

Additionally, Tocchet’s been suspended without pay from his job as assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Posted by David M Singer on May 24, 2007 at 03:17 PM
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Operation Slapshot: A Year Later

A year later, the case allegedly involving Rick Tocchet remains in limbo.  The AP revisits the story and starts with that reminder:

A year after state authorities busted a multi-million-dollar sports betting ring that implicated ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s wife as a bettor, the most high-profile suspect — former National Hockey League All-Star Rick Tocchet — remains in legal limbo.

While the two other men charged in the case have pleaded guilty, Tocchet has neither admitted guilt nor been indicted by a grand jury. The charges were announced with fanfare on Feb. 7, 2006 in what authorities dubbed “Operation Slapshot.”

Yet another non-update update.

Stan Fischler one-lines it properly:

Just Wondering Dep’t.: Why has nothing been said about Rick Tocchet’s status?

Posted by David M Singer on Feb 07, 2007 at 01:44 AM
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another Plea Deal for Testimony Against Tocchet

Rick Hepp of the Star-Ledger is reporting that another plea deal is in the works in exchange for testimony against Rick Tocchet:

An accomplice in a multimillion-dollar betting ring that catered to professional hockey players will plead guilty tomorrow in a deal that guarantees his cooperation against one of the ring’s alleged leaders, NHL coach Rick Tocchet, according to law enforcement officials.

James Ulmer, who took bets for the ring, will plead guilty in state Superior Court to promoting gambling and conspiracy with the expectation he will serve up to 364 days in county jail, said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

Posted by David M Singer on Nov 30, 2006 at 05:25 AM
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tocchet Still Waiting

The Arizona Republic’s David Vest sums up Rick Tocchet’s situation in one line:

Every time I hear the Tom Petty song The Waiting, I think about Rick Tocchet.

If Tocchet is as innocent as he claims, no news certainly isn’t good news as his career has been on hiatus since February.

Posted by David M Singer on Nov 26, 2006 at 06:24 AM
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Harney’s Sentencing Delayed

Yes, this story is still going on.  James Harney pled guilty to promoting gambling and official misconduct for running a sports-betting ring.  Rick Tocchet still hasn’t been indicted, but it appears it’s still in the plans.

Sentencing for trooper in hockey betting ring delayed

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.

Posted by David M Singer on Oct 24, 2006 at 01:47 AM
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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tocchet’s Future Still Uncertain as Preseason Nears

From the Arizona Republic:

Rick Tocchet, who has been on an unpaid leave of absence since February because of his reported involvement in an illegal gambling ring, is not listed with the other associate coaches in the training camp media guide.

Tocchet’s future with the team remains uncertain as he waits for law authorities in New Jersey to make their next move.

A few quotes follow from Gretzky and Daly about not making any decisions until investigation is complete (with no hint of date about when that may be).

Posted by David M Singer on Sep 16, 2006 at 06:47 AM
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Friday, August 04, 2006

The Case Revolves Around Tocchet

James Harney, the now-former NJ trooper, pleaded guilty in a plea-bargain deal in order to help the state (NJ) make a case against Rick Tocchet.

Notice the NY Times headline on the AP article?  “Guilty Plea Made in Tocchet Case”.  If you take a stop over at Google News, you’ll notice Tocchet’s name appears in many headlines.  A former hockey star and recent assistant coach to Wayne Gretzky makes for a good headline.

But is it intentional?  New Jersey made a splash months ago announcing Tocchet’s alleged involvement and then there were numerous leaks before a long period of silence leading up to today.  You’re not seeing a plethora of “corrupt cop” headlines or calls for internal investigations that normally might be heard around a case like this.

Tocchet’s defense says they are “undeterred” by Harney’s guilty plea.

Posted by David M Singer on Aug 04, 2006 at 12:28 AM
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tocchet Announcement Coming

New Jersey should finally make an announcement on any possible indictment for Rick Tocchet.  From The Arizona Republic:

The announcement could come as early as this week.

The NHL source also said there have been indications recently that New Jersey law officials are more interested in prosecuting state trooper James Harney than anyone else, and that he would be “surprised” if Tocchet was indicted.

Posted by David M Singer on Aug 01, 2006 at 10:38 AM
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nothing Doing for Tocchet

No news is, well, no news.  The latest non-updates from The Arizona Republic:

Jul 13:

Also no word from New Jersey law enforcement officials on the status of “Operation Slap Shot.”

That means Rick Tocchet’s status as a coach with the Coyotes remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, the NHL is still conducting its own probe into the illegal gambling ring allegedly involving Tocchet.

“The investigation remains ongoing, and its timing is contingent on the timing of the investigation being conducted by the New Jersey law enforcement authorities,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Republic in an e-mail. “At this point there is no timetable for the conclusion of the investigation.”

Pick up the pace people!

Jul 25:

Speaking of unusual stuff in Vegas, Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports in his column that Wayne and Janet Gretzky “were back at Las Vegas’ high-stakes tables recently, their first trip since her alleged linkage to a betting ring back in February.”

That would be the betting ring allegedly run by Rick Tocchet, Gretzky’s friend and associate coach, who remains in limbo because a New Jersey police investigation called “Operation Slap Shot” continues as does an NHL investigation called “As soon as they show us theirs, we’ll show you ours.”

Posted by David M Singer on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:49 AM
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