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Chicago man admits working as an agent for mob-connected bookie

Ramiro Barajas recruited, managed and supervised gamblers for Gregory Paloian, according to his plea agreement. He also gave them log-in credentials so they could place bets on the website Unclemicksports.com.

A sign for the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St.
Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St.
Sun-Times file

A wide-ranging federal gambling investigation led to another guilty plea Thursday, this time by a Chicago man who admitted he worked as an agent for bookie Gregory Paloian, who has purported mob ties.

Ramiro Barajas, 40, pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling business between 2016 and 2019 during a video hearing before U.S. District Judge John Tharp. The judge set a sentencing hearing for Feb. 21.

Barajas recruited, managed and supervised gamblers for Paloian, according to his plea agreement. It said he also gave them log-in credentials so they could place bets on the website Unclemicksports.com, which is central to the related prosecution of Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice and others.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney has previously said in court that Paloian ran his operation involving about 60 gamblers through DelGiudice, “who had a well-established network all set up.”

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow gave Paloian a two-and-a-half year prison sentence last April, but she later agreed to push his surrender date back until August 2022 for health reasons. Another Paolian agent, former Melrose Park police officer John Amabile, also pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold to six months in home detention.

Chicago police officer Nicholas Stella, indicted along with DelGiudice, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall to 15 months behind bars. DelGiudice’s sentencing is set for Feb. 4.

Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher also faced charges along with DelGiudice, but Donald Trump pardoned Urlacher in the final hours of his presidency last January.

Barajas shared winnings and losses with Paloian on a 25% basis and routinely communicated with Paloian to discuss the operation, according to Barajas’ plea agreement. During his hearing Thursday, Tharp asked Barajas whether he profited from particular bets.

“I had more losses than wins,” Barajas said. “But yes.”