Probation sentence for gambling agent wraps feds’ prosecution of massive betting ring
A prosecutor said Vasilios Prassas was victimized by Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice, who took advantage of Prassas’ gambling problems and repeatedly forgave debts that “would have caused him to crash and burn.”
The prosecution of a massive international gambling ring largely wrapped up in Chicago’s federal court Tuesday when a judge gave probation and a $20,000 fine to a man described as “a long-term but small agent” for Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice.
Vasilios Prassas, 39, pleaded guilty to a gambling conspiracy earlier this year, admitting that he recruited and managed gamblers for DelGiudice’s gambling ring so they could place wagers through DelGiudice’s website, Unclemicksports.com.
But during his sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney also said Prassas was victimized by DelGiudice, who took advantage of Prassas’ gambling problems and repeatedly forgave debts that “would have caused him to crash and burn.”
Defense attorney Damon Cheronis told U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall that, “Mr. Prassas didn’t line his pockets with money, he emptied his pockets in this case.” He also said Prassas hasn’t gambled since he was charged in February 2020.
Before Kendall sentenced him, Prassas apologized and told the judge he would “never be in this situation again.”
In addition to two years of probation and the fine, Kendall ordered Prassas to perform 100 hours of community service.
Prassas was charged in an indictment along with DelGiudice, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher and seven others. Kendall sentenced DelGiudice in March to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay a significant amount of forfeiture, including a $3.5 million judgment.
The feds say DelGiudice ran the largest, longest and most lucrative criminal gambling ring ever prosecuted in Chicago’s federal court. The case involved roughly 1,000 gamblers and millions of dollars. It also got the attention of the White House when then-President Donald Trump pardoned Urlacher, brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher.
Still, most of those charged in the case avoided prison time. The main exception, other than DelGiudice, has been Chicago Police Officer Nicholas Stella, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Gregory Paloian, a bookie who was charged in a separate but related case, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, but his surrender date has repeatedly been delayed due to health concerns.
Keith Benson, another defendant in the DelGiudice case who cooperated with the feds, struck a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement. Assuming he holds up his end of the two-year deal, prosecutors are expected to eventually move to dismiss the charges against him.