Widowed Father in Illegal Chicago Sports Betting Ring Gets Community Confinement

Posted on: September 12, 2021, 03:08h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2021, 04:35h.

Another defendant in the federal case regarding a Chicago-area illegal sports betting ring avoided a prison sentence when a judge sentenced him Thursday.

UncleMickSports sentencing
Chicago’s Federal Center, with Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on the left. On Thursday, Matthew Knight received a six-month community confinement sentence at that courthouse for his role in an illegal sports betting operation. (Image: Architecture.org)

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Matthew Knight received six months of community confinement along with a $10,000 fine. US District Court Judge Virginia Kendall ordered a two-year probation period as well.

As one of 10 charged in the case, Knight entered into a plea agreement on March 8. He admitted to conspiring with Vincent DelGiudice and others to run an illegal gambling operation from 2016 to 2019. He served as an agent for DelGiudice and provided bettors with credentials to place bets on UncleMickSports.com. In addition, he also collected debts and paid out winnings.

He faced a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the plea agreement. However, in its sentencing memo, prosecutors said the rating for Knight’s criminal activity typically warranted a 12-to-18-month prison sentence.

In that memo, Assistant US Attorneys Ankur Srivastava and Terry Kinney said that Knight and DelGiudice often considered each other “partners” in the operation. From Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 18, 2018, wagers by Knight’s clients led to profits of $901,504.87 for the gambling ring. They equated that to about $18 million in bets for that time frame.

Defendant was a big-time bookmaker, personally responsible for overseeing bettors who bet tens of millions of dollars and incurred millions of dollars in gambling losses,” the prosecutors’ memo stated.

However, federal authorities also said they understood Knight’s case had “significant mitigating factors” beyond his otherwise clean prior record and his history as a business owner.

Knight’s Lawyer Sought Probation

According to Knight’s sentencing memo, those factors include the 47-year-old father of three teenage daughters being widowed after his wife’s suicide. Todd Pugh, his attorney, argued that sentencing Knight to probation would not be an unreasonable decision.

Knight worked for seven years as a homebuilder in Chicago’s south suburbs. In 2012, he closed that business because of the housing market. That same year, he opened a logistics business and eventually formed a partnership with two others in 2017.

After being indicted, Knight’s partners bought him out for $50,000. His attorney said that money currently covers living expenses for his family.

Pugh did not deny that Knight profited from the bets placed through the DelGiudice website. Still, he claimed his client thrived more on the social aspects of sports betting.

“Over the years, Mr. Knight gained more and more players, and became one of DelGiudice’s most successful agents,” the defense memo stated. “Still, Mr. Knight enjoyed the community surrounding sports betting, it provided a reason to go hang out with friends and socialize, and in many cases, was a source for making new friends.”

Two in Chicago-Area Gambling Ring Receive Prison Sentences

Under federal sentencing guidelines, community confinement means Knight will reside in a halfway house or a similar facility. Knight will be required to be gainfully employed or looking for work while under confinement. He must also participate in community service and other programs during non-residential hours.

Two other associates in the UncleMickSports case received prison time. Gregory Paloian got a 30-month prison sentence, while Nicholas Stella received 15 months.

Others who have been sentenced have been given either community confinement, like Knight, or home incarceration.

The ring also involved Mettawa, Ill., Mayor Casey Urlacher, the brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. However, Casey Urlacher received a pardon from President Trump in January.

DelGiudice entered a guilty plea in February on charges of conspiring to conduct an illegal gaming operation and conspiring to launder money. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison and a substantial fine – up to twice as much as the amount of money the gambling ring handled.