Nearly a year ago, Casey Urlacher found himself charged with nine others in a sports gambling case that could have put him in federal prison.
That prison threat still looms over most of his co-defendants. But in his final hours as president Tuesday, Donald Trump granted a full pardon to Urlacher, mayor of north suburban Mettawa and brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher.
“Throughout his life, Mr. Urlacher has been committed to public service and has consistently given back to his community,” the White House wrote in its announcement. It also called Casey Urlacher “a devoted husband to his wife and a loving father to his 17-month-old daughter.”
The lead defendant in the case that included Urlacher, Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice, is expected to plead guilty Monday. In a statement passed along Wednesday by his defense attorney, Carolyn Gurland, DelGiudice said of Urlacher, “I am happy for him and his family. God bless them.”
A 28-page federal indictment handed down last February alleged Urlacher tracked down gambling debts while helping DelGiudice run a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling operation involving as many as 1,000 sports gamblers.
Brian Urlacher met with Trump at the White House in March 2020, shortly after his brother’s indictment, according to media reports at the time. A source said that visit was set up with the help of a Secret Service agent, a huge Bears fan who had become friends with the former NFL player. Brian Urlacher later attended a Christmas party for White House staff, the source said.
Records show Brian Urlacher also made $6,125 in donations to Trump-related campaign funds following his brother’s indictment.
Meanwhile, DelGiudice’s father, Eugene DelGiudice, pleaded guilty last summer and has been sentenced to three months of home detention.
“We are very thankful that out of all the thousands of petitions for pardon submitted to the president that he read and appreciated all of the outstanding qualities and decency that Casey possesses and saw fit to grant him a pardon,” Michael Gillespie, Casey Urlacher’s defense attorney, said in a statement Wednesday morning.
After his indictment, Urlacher denied to the Chicago Sun-Times any knowledge of the gambling investigation. He pleaded not guilty. Urlacher was charged in the indictment with one count of participating in the gambling conspiracy and one count of running an illegal gambling business.
The indictment alleged that Urlacher asked Vincent DelGiudice to create a login and password for a new gambler on DelGiudice’s gambling 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 Vasilios Prassas, who was also charged in the indictment. 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.
Casey Urlacher played football at NCAA Division III Lake Forest College, graduating in 2003. He had a brief tryout with the Bears that year and went on to play a couple of seasons in the Arena League.
According to his bio on the Lake Forest College website, “he then became an entrepreneur in the fields of real estate, restaurants, and construction before adding politics to his list of career endeavors.” He has been mayor of Mettawa since 2013 and made a failed bid for Illinois Senate in 2016, losing in the Republican primary.