Ex-Cop in Chicago Sports Betting Ring Case Avoids Prison Time

  • John Amabile faced up to five years in prison but escaped with just six months in home detention
  • The ex-cop ran a betting operation between 2018 and 2019 with his partner Gregory Paloian
  • The judge described police corruption as “incredibly dangerous,” while Amabile expressed regret
  • The case has ties to a sports betting operation led by Vincent DelGiudice between 2016 and 2019
Police badge with handcuffs
Former Melrose Park police officer John Amabile has avoided jail time for his role in running an illegal sports betting operation, receiving a six-month home detention sentence instead. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A lucky escape for former officer

When former Melrose Park police officer John Amabile pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling business earlier this year, he faced up to five years in prison under federal law. On Thursday however, a judge in Chicago’s federal court ordered the 33-year-old to serve just six months in home detention instead.

conducting, managing, and supervising an illegal gambling business

Amabile’s single-count charge, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in April, accused him of conducting, managing, and supervising an illegal gambling business between 2018 and 2019. Amabile worked as a Melrose Park police officer during that time, before resigning earlier this year.

The former police officer admitted to running an illegal sports betting website, Unclemicksports. Gregory Paloian, a bookmaker with supposed ties to the mob, also confessed to running the betting ring in partnership with Amabile. He received a 30-month prison term earlier this year.

In addition to his home detention sentence, Amabile must pay a $100,000 forfeiture of criminally derived proceeds.

Offenders get their rulings

US District Judge Martha Pacold handed down Amabile’s sentence in Chicago’s federal court on Thursday. She noted that Amabile served as a police officer during the time of the offenses, describing corruption among the police force as “incredibly dangerous.” However, she also acknowledged Amabile’s efforts to make things right, having paid $52,000 of his $100,000 forfeiture to date.

I will never put myself or my family through anything like this ever again.”

Speaking in court before his sentencing, Amabile expressed regret over his actions. “I will never put myself or my family through anything like this ever again,” he commented. However, he also said he disagreed with his portrayal as a predator in the case, claiming that gamblers only place bets to “enhance their excitement.”

Paloian, Amabile’s accomplice in the illegal operation received a 30-month prison sentence in April this year. According to Amabile’s plea agreement, both partners shared wins and losses on a 50/50 basis. Due to health reasons, US District Judge Joan Lefkow pushed back Paloian’s surrender date until August 2022.

Unlike Amabile, Paloian has a long criminal history. Police have arrested the 66-year-old multiple times over the past 20 years. His record includes a 1980 conviction on charges of extending juice loans to gamblers, and an arrest in 1995 for taking wagers at a basketball facility in Elmwood Park. He also served three-and-a-half years in prison in 2002 for running a sports betting operation with the Chicago mob.

A much wider issue

In this case of illegal sports betting, it seems Amabile and Paloian’s operation may just be the tip of the iceberg. Police have tied Paloian’s gambling operation to a large-scale, international betting ring led by Vincent DelGiudice between 2016 and 2019. According to Assistant US Attorney Terry Kinney, Paloian ran his operation through DelGiudice “who had a well-established network set up.”

As a result of this link, Paloian’s betting website, Unclemicksports.com, was central to separate gambling charges filed against ten individuals in February 2020. This includes DelGiudice himself and Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, the brother of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher. Former President Donald Trump pardoned Urlacher before leaving office in January.

Added to this, the case involved another former Chicago police officer, Nicholas Stella. He received a 15-month prison sentence in July this year. Prosecutors accused Stella of betraying his oath as a police officer by “playing an integral role” in the “multimillion-dollar illegal gambling operation.”

According to prosecutors, DelGiudice paid a fee to a sportsbook in Costa Rica to use its online site. He then convinced Chicago-based gamblers to register through Unclemicksports.com. The operation raked in millions of dollars.