A fourth defendant has pleaded guilty in the illegal sports gambling case that once involved Casey Urlacher.
Matthew “Sweaters” Knight, 47, pleaded guilty this week and could face more than a year in prison. His sentencing will take place on June 25.
Knight allegedly held a similar role in the scheme to Urlacher. He would recruit new bettors, collect losses and pay out winnings.
Urlacher, of course, was fully pardoned by former President Donald Trump. Urlacher is now seeking mayoral reelection in Mettawa, while his former co-defendants continue to plead guilty.
Vincent DelGiudice, who led the gambling ring, pleaded guilty earlier this year. So did Todd Blanken.
DelGiudice’s father, Eugene, has already been sentenced. He received three months of home detention, a lighter penalty than expected.
The 28-page indictment filed in 2020 sheds more light on Knight’s troubling role in the scheme.
What Knight said to gamblers
According to the indictment, Knight sent a text message to a gambler he met in 2018 that read, “Morning Bronco, going through figs, can you please tell Bronco 33 to pay or play, hasn’t played since February, down 938.”
Knight also allegedly collected $500 in losses from the person he texted a month earlier.
Another 2018 message from Knight to a gambler read, “Owe u 2254, will drop.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney told U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall that there are several secret recordings of Knight meeting up with gamblers to accept or pay them money.
Why legal gambling is better
There are several reasons, but one in particular sticks out here: Encouraging responsible gambling.
Take the first Knight text message, for instance. When speaking to a bettor who is down money, continuing to play is apparently an equal option to paying, knowing full well that the bettor could lose and take on even more debt.
Legal sportsbooks offer resources for problem gamblers rather than encouraging them to continue playing and chase their losses.
Not to mention that there is nothing stopping bookies or offshore sportsbooks from withholding winnings or collecting their winnings by any means necessary.
Casey Urlacher off scot-free
As previously mentioned, Urlacher received a full pardon in the final hours of the Trump presidency.
Here was the White House statement at the time, which has since been deleted:
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Casey Urlacher. This pardon is supported by his friends and family, and countless members of his community. Mr. Urlacher has been charged with conspiracy to engage in illegal gambling. Throughout his life, Mr. Urlacher has been committed to public service and has consistently given back to his community. Currently, Mr. Urlacher serves as the unpaid Mayor of Mettawa, Illinois. He is a devoted husband to his wife and a loving father to his 17-month-old daughter.”
As we noted at the time, the statement does not dispute Urlacher’s role in the scheme.
A few weeks later, Urlacher announced his campaign for reelection.