A Chicago police officer will spend 15 months in federal prison for his role in organizing an illegal sports betting operation.
That was the sentence Nicholas Stella received on Thursday from US District Judge Virginia Kendall.
In April, Stella entered a guilty plea on a single count of participating in an illegal gaming operation. He faced up to five years in prison based on the charge, but prosecutors earlier this month requested a sentence between 12 to 18 months.
Stella admitted in a plea agreement that he took bets and helped recruit others to take bets for Vincent DelGiudice. That agreement noted Stella’s work from 2016 to 2019 included providing access information to a website tied to a Costa Rican sportsbook DelGiudice used for the operation
In the sentencing recommendation, prosecutors noted that from Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 18, 2018, the operation generated more than $450,000 in profits from Stella’s clients. They added that with college football bowl games scheduled for the last two weeks of the year, the actual revenue was likely much higher.
According to court documents, Stella has already served six months after Kendall revoked his bail due to an alleged domestic violence incident in January. At that time, Stella’s girlfriend called 9-1-1 from a hotel near O’Hare International Airport claim he was trying to kill her.
Prosecutors said the battering incident was an “aggravating” circumstance in its sentencing recommendation. In addition, his status as a police officer distinguished him from the other nine charged in the scheme.
“Our entire justice system is premised on the public’s faith in its institutions, and when those tasked with upholding the law instead choose to break it… they erode the public’s trust,” the prosecutor’s memorandum stated.
Lawyer Says Client Gambling Problem
Lawyers for Stella objected to claims that he was a major part of the operations. Instead, they said he and his connections generated about 3 percent of DelGiudice’s business. They also said he admitted his involvement in the operation before authorities charged him.
Further, they described the 43-year-old as a “gambling junkie” who began working for DelGiudice to support his habit. However, he lost what he made through gambling.
At the age of seven, Stella started gambling,” Michael Clancy, Stella’s lawyer, wrote in the July 8 report. “As an adult, Stella has gambled on pretty much a daily basis on anything competitive. He has won and lost thousands of dollars at a time. He recognizes that he has a gambling problem and is open to treatment as a component of his sentence.”
According to the Associated Press, Clancy said Stella was on disability leave from the Chicago Police Department during his involvement in the gambling ring. The lawyer said his client will be terminated from the force and likely will lose his pension as a result.
Chicago Cop Third Sentenced in Case
Stella becomes the first individual in the operation to receive jail time. Two other individuals involved in the scheme have already been sentenced.
Last month, Todd Blanken received a six-month sentence in a community center and two years of probation after pleading guilty to a gambling conspiracy charge. Authorities said Blanken, 43, helped in collecting payments from and distributing winnings to clients.
In October, Eugene DelGiudice, Vincent’s father, received a three-month home incarceration sentence and a year of probation. Prosecutors said the octogenarian also served as a runner, collecting payments and disbursing winnings.
Mettawa, Ill., Mayor Casey Urlacher also faced charges in the case. However, in January, the brother of former Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher received a pardon from President Trump.
The younger DelGiudice awaits his sentencing after he pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gaming business and laundering money through an international business.
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