Originally created 02/11/06

Gretzky's wife will go with him to Turin



TRENTON, N.J. - Janet Jones will accompany husband Wayne Gretzky to Italy for the Winter Olympics, a few days after she was implicated in an alleged gambling ring involving NHL players.

Gretzky, the executive director of Canada's Olympic hockey team, previously said he was going to Turin this weekend. His wife was going, too, her publicist Elliot Mintz confirmed Friday.

Jones allegedly placed bets with a gambling operation that authorities said was financed by Rick Tocchet, Gretzky's assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes. She bet at least $100,000 on football, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who has spoken to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Authorities have said up to a dozen NHL players have been implicated but none have been identified or charged. There was no indication that any wagers were made on hockey games, and no evidence Gretzky placed any bets, investigators said.

At a brief news conference following the Coyotes' 5-1 loss to Dallas on Thursday, Gretzky said, "I've felt like the last three days I've defended myself over something that absolutely, unequivocally, I was not involved with."

Meanwhile, an investigator revealed just how closely NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is monitoring the situation.

"He's plugged into what we're doing on a daily, even hourly basis," said Robert Cleary, the former Unabomber prosecutor hired by the NHL.

A second New Jersey state trooper was suspended in connection with the ring, and the state trooper charged this week with helping run the operation is now looking for a job, his lawyer said.

Authorities in New Jersey allege that Tocchet financed and helped run the ring, which took in a total of $1.7 million in wagers in the five weeks culminating in the Super Bowl.

New Jersey authorities on Tuesday announced charges against Tocchet, a New Jersey state trooper and a South Jersey man with running the gambling operation. All face charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.