Man who brought massive gambling ring to Illinois State University avoids prison

A prosecutor said Matthew Namoff managed 60 gamblers at ISU. Namoff’s defense attorney said he “fundamentally” disagreed with the feds’ characterization.

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A sign for the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St.

Matthew Namoff, 25, was sentenced to six months of home confinement and fined $10,000 for running a bookmaking operation at Illinois State University.

Sun-Times file

The youngest person charged in connection with a massive international gambling ring, who was accused by the feds of running a “significant bookmaking operation” at Illinois State University, dodged prison during his sentencing hearing Tuesday.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall gave six months of home confinement and a $10,000 fine to 25-year-old Matthew Namoff.

Federal prosecutors say Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice groomed Namoff and made him an equal partner in the larger gambling ring DelGiudice ran online. They said Namoff managed 60 gamblers at ISU, and DelGiudice saw it as a business opportunity.

That’s because Namoff’s gamblers would eventually leave ISU, get jobs and increase their bets. 

“These were not small bets in a dorm room over beer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney wrote in a court memo.

Defense attorney Darryl Goldberg said he “fundamentally” disagreed with the prosecutor’s characterization of Namoff, insisting Namoff “pales in comparison” to others charged in connection with the gambling ring.

Before he was sentenced, Namoff apologized to the judge and said, “I stupidly saw gambling as a way to socialize in college, but through all this I now know that it’s not a victimless crime.”

“You’ll never see me again,” Namoff said. “Thank you, your honor.”

DelGiudice admitted earlier this year that he ran the larger bookmaking business from 2016 to 2019 in and around Chicago. Namoff, who pleaded guilty to his role in April, is the seventh person to be sentenced in a series of related cases that have been filed since early 2020. 

Two of the six people previously sentenced landed prison time, but four others avoided it. Another defendant, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, was pardoned in January by then-President Donald Trump. DelGiudice has not been sentenced.

Goldberg wrote in a court memo that Namoff suffered from an undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a violent robbery when his crime began. Goldberg wrote that Namoff got drunk and bragged that he knew of DelGiudice and his gambling website in an attempt to increase his popularity. 

“What began as $1 to $3 wagers on a sporting event over a beer morphed into something else,” Goldberg wrote. “Mr. Namoff’s [bettors] were betting so small on average that the minimum wager was eventually increased to $5, clearly on the smallest scale of all charged in this case.”

Kinney and Goldberg painted drastically different pictures of Namoff during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. Despite Namoff’s guilty plea, Kinney even suggested that the judge give Namoff no credit for accepting responsibility for his crime.

Meanwhile, Goldberg pointed to Trump’s pardon of Urlacher, noting that Urlacher “was a suburban mayor when he recruited and profited large amounts from gamblers.”

Goldberg wrote that Namoff “should not be imprisoned to avoid disparate treatment under the law, whether this Honorable Court believes Mr. Urlacher’s pardon was appropriate or not.”

“That needs to be addressed to a different place, not here,” Kendall told Goldberg.

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