A federal judge Monday gave three months of home detention to an 85-year-old man caught up in a sports gambling prosecution that led to the indictment earlier this year of the brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher.
Eugene “Geno” DelGiudice pleaded guilty in July to conspiring to conduct an illegal gambling business, becoming the first of the 10 people charged in the case last February to be convicted. Among those charged is Casey Urlacher, mayor of north suburban Mettawa.
Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice, Eugene DelGiudice’s son, is set to plead guilty next week, court records show. Also charged in the case are Matthew “Sweaters” Knight of Mokena, Justin Hines of Algonquin, Keith D. Benson of Lemont, Todd Blanken of Cary, Nicholas Stella of Chicago, Matthew Namoff of Midlothian and Vasilios Prassas of Chicago.
Prosecutors earlier this month asked U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall to give Eugene DelGiudice a sentence of probation with home detention, noting he has lived a “largely law-abiding life” — aside from a 1996 fine for a gambling offense — and would be at high risk for severe illness or death if he were to contract COVID-19.
Kendall ordered Eugene DelGiudice to serve one year of probation, spending the first three months on home detention. The sentencing hearing took place by videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the judge handed down the sentence, defense attorney David Petrich explained that Eugene DelGiudice was “unaware of the mechanics” of the gambling ring and was “unable to use a computer.” He said DelGiudice “in no way threatened any of the gamblers.”
Eugene DelGiudice apologized, explained that the people involved in the ring “came to feel like my friends” and, in his advanced age, made him feel useful.
“I know what I did was wrong and I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t have an excuse, so I ain’t gonna make any.”
Eugene DelGiudice’s sentencing further opened a window into the alleged multimillion-dollar sports gambling ring the feds say involved as many as 1,000 people. Vincent DelGiudice allegedly paid more than $10,000 a month for the use of the website unclemicksports.com. Gamblers then used that site to view odds, place bets on sporting events and monitor winnings and losses. Vincent DelGiudice also allegedly found “agents” to help him recruit gamblers.
The feds say Eugene DelGiudice played an integral role as a “runner” — collecting and delivering large sums of cash at his son’s direction and sometimes collecting tips along the way. Prosecutors said the gambling ring generated millions of dollars in proceeds annually, used encrypted communications tools and “engaged in significant money laundering.”
They also said “lives have been destroyed” by the gambling ring that “preyed on vulnerable individuals, many of whom were hopelessly addicted to gambling.”
“The government has met with victims whose careers, marriages, family life, and lives were jeopardized and harmed by their affiliation with the gambling enterprise,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ankur Srivastava wrote in a court memo earlier this month.
For example, Srivastava wrote about one gambler who fell behind on his debts only to have the agent he owed money to threaten to come to a wedding the gambler planned to attend. Srivastava wrote that the gambler “was not aware of how the agent even knew about the wedding, and interpreted the agent’s statements as a threat to physically harm him.”
When that gambler’s wife fell ill and was hospitalized, Srivastava wrote that the gambler asked for more time to pay his debt. Instead, the agent allegedly began sending him pictures of his ill wife’s social media feed. The gambler took that as a threat that the agent would disclose his gambling habit to his wife if he didn’t pay, Srivastava wrote. Ultimately, the prosecutor said the gambler embezzled money from his employer and now faces federal charges in another district.
“That is just one gambler’s story, and there are undoubtedly many more like it,” Srivastava wrote, adding that Eugene DelGiudice was not personally involved in pressuring gamblers but “assisted the criminal venture in preying upon the gambling enterprise’s many victims.”