The brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher joined a crowd of defendants who stood before a federal judge Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to their alleged roles in a multimillion-dollar sports gambling ring the feds say involved as many as 1,000 people.
Casey Urlacher, mayor of north suburban Mettawa, stood at the back of the group that formed in front of U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall — a group including nine defendants and their attorneys.
Urlacher said little during the brief hearing on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, giving only short answers to questions from the judge. Later, he left the building without speaking to reporters.
A 28-page federal indictment filed late last month accused Urlacher of helping Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice run a gambling ring based around the website unclemicksports.com.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney told the judge there is “substantial” evidence in the case. The judge set the next status hearing for April 30. Prosecutors did not ask the judge to detain any of the defendants, though they asked that they surrender their passports and firearms.
DelGiudice’s attorney raised concerns about DelGiudice not having a gun in the house, telling the judge she was concerned for her client’s safety, given the publicity in the case. Kinney objected, and Kendall said she would not allow DelGiudice to have a gun in his house.
Kinney also asked the judge to warn DelGiudice against trying to collect any outstanding gambling debts.
Michael Gillespie, Urlacher’s attorney, said his client already had given up his passport and any weapons in his possession.
Also charged for their roles in the scheme are Eugene “Gino” DelGiudice of Orland Park; 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.
Eugene DelGiudice is Vincent DelGiudice’s father. Stella worked as a Chicago police officer for 18 years but was relieved of his police powers on May 13, 2019.
Benson did not join the defendants at Wednesday’s hearing. His arraignment is set for Monday.
DelGiudice allegedly paid more than $10,000 a month to a company not named in the indictment for the use of the website unclemicksports.com. Gamblers used it to view odds, place bets on sporting events and monitor winnings and losses. DelGiudice also allegedly found “agents” to help him recruit gamblers.
The indictment alleges Urlacher asked DelGiudice to create a log-in and password for a new gambler on the website on Dec. 16, 2018. DelGiudice allegedly did so, setting a $500 maximum bet, a $3,000 maximum wager for the week and a $1,000 settle-up figure.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Urlacher allegedly gave an envelope filled with gambling debts owed to DelGiudice to Prassas. That same day, Prassas allegedly passed an envelope filled with Urlacher’s gambling debts on to DelGiudice with the remark, “This is Casey’s.”
Urlacher also allegedly asked DelGiudice by phone on Dec. 26, 2018, to shut down a gambler’s account until the gambler paid a debt. That same day, after the gambler wired $3,000 to Urlacher, Urlacher allegedly texted DelGiudice and told him to turn the gambler’s account back on.
The feds also say Urlacher paid a gambling debt to DelGiudice on Feb. 1, 2019.
During a search of DelGiudice’s Orland Park home in April 2019, agents allegedly found more than $1.06 million in cash, $347,895 in silver bars and jewelry, and $92,623 in gold coins. Prosecutors are seeking an $8 million judgment against DelGiudice.
DelGiudice is charged with one count of conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, one count of conducting an illegal gambling business, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of money laundering.
His alleged agents, including Urlacher, are charged with one count of participating in the conspiracy and one count of running an illegal gambling business.