Second New Jersey man accused in NHL betting ring pleads guilty, agrees to help prosecutors

Friday, December 1st 2006, 12:26 pm
By: News On 6

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) _ A man charged with helping to run a gambling ring along with former hockey star Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty to bookmaking Friday and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

James Ulmer, 41, is the second man to plead guilty in the case, which authorities have said involved bettors including current NHL players and actress Janet Jones, the wife of hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

New Jersey state police Trooper James Harney pleaded guilty in August and described how he and Tocchet were equal partners running the ring. Harney, who faces up to seven years in prison, said then that Ulmer's role was smaller _ just to take bets.

On Friday, Ulmer did not detail what he did or how the gambling ring operated, simply saying there were days he took more than five bets worth more than $1,000 _ meeting the technical elements of the crime.

He said he worked with other people as a bookmaker between September 2003 until February.

Ulmer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and promoting gambling, faces up to 10 years in prison but prosecutors are recommending a sentence of between six months and 364 days. He also must forfeit $45,000.

Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 27, but it's unlikely to happen until the case against Tocchet is closed.

After he was charged, Tocchet took an indefinite leave of absence as Gretzky's top assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. Through his lawyer, he has denied any guilt.

Authorities announced in February they had taken down the gambling ring, which they said had been running for years. In the 40 days ending Feb. 5, they said, $1.7 million changed hands.

The case shocked the hockey world, but NHL officials say there is no evidence of bets on that sport. Authorities have said bettors in the case will not be charged.