MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. - Rick Tocchet, the former hockey star and Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach at the center of a gambling ring investigation, was due in court Friday for an unspecified reason.
The state Attorney General's Office announced the scheduled appearance. Neither Tocchet's lawyer, Kevin Marino, nor David Wald, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office would comment.
But unexpected court appearances can often signal a defendant is entering a guilty plea.
Tocchet, 42, was charged, with much fanfare, in February 2006 with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
Authorities said the bettors in the case included Janet Jones, the wife of hockey legend and current Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, and some others connected with hockey who were not identified.
More than 15 months after the charge, Tocchet had still not been indicted, or formally charged by a grand jury.
He has been on indefinite leave from his Coyotes job since the charges were announced.
In the meantime, the two other men charged in the case pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors.
Former state Trooper James Harney pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct and faces up to seven years in state prison when he's sentenced.
Businessman James Ulmer pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy and promoting gambling. Prosecutors said they would ask a judge to sentence him to less than a year in jail.
When Harney pleaded guilty last year, he and his lawyer gave a detailed account of how the gambling ring worked.
Harney said he and Tocchet were equal partners in the ring. The hockey star brought in six bettors and shared revenue with the former trooper. Tocchet would sometimes cover losses, he said. Ulmer had a smaller role, he told a judge, bringing in bettors and getting a percentage of their losses.
Harney said that mobsters were not involved in the ring, which he said operated for about five years.
Authorities said the ring handled $1.7 million in bets over a 40-day stretch in 2005 and 2006 that included college football bowl games and the Super Bowl.
NHL officials hired a lawyer to investigate and say there is no evidence anyone in the ring wagered on hockey.
Under New Jersey law, it is not a crime to place a bet, even if the wager is with a bookie. People who place bets for others can be prosecuted, however, as can people who profit off someone else's bets.
In this case, authorities have said no bettors would be charged.