harney-james-cp

James Harney faces up to seven years in prison for his part in a sports gambling ring. ((Canadian Press))

A former New Jersey state trooper has pleaded guilty to charges that he helped run a sports gambling ring that allegedly included former hockey star Rick Tocchet.

As part of a deal, James Harney pleaded guilty to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct. He faces up to seven years prison and has agreed to help authorities with their caseagainst the other accused members of the ring.

Authorities, who dubbed theirinvestigation Operation Slapshot,claim Harney assisted Tocchet and James Ulmer operate a sports gambling ring that catered to current NHL players and celebrities.

No bettors were ever publicly identified, but two anonymous law enforcement officials told the Associated Press in February that Janet Jones, the wife of Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, was among those who allegedly placed bets with the operation.

Jones, Tocchet may sue

Lawyersfor Jones and Tocchet filed notice May 8 that they plan to sue the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, the state police and the head of the state police public information office for allegedly defaming them by illegally releasing evidence from confidential wiretaps.

The filings were not lawsuits, but Jones and Tocchet have up to two years to officially file a suit.

Tocchet has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his job as assistant coach of the Coyotes.

Harney and Tocchet became acquainted more than a decade ago when Harney bartended in Philadelphia and Tocchet played for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Harney was suspended from the state police in February after he was charged. He resigned from his job on Wednesday after posting a public apology for his role in the ring on his lawyer's website.

With files from The Canadian Press