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.
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.”