Was US lawmaker in collaboration with defendant in an illegal gambling case?

An interesting conversation is exposed by a federal wiretap

A politician from Pennsylvania is presently defending his reputation after a federal wiretap and a sting investigation exposed a conversation over a phone with an illegal operator of sports betting that apparently suggests the suspension of a complaint related to problem gambling, according to widestread reports in the mainstream media in the US on Tuesday.

Mark Gergely, the Pennsylvania Representative and an Allegheny Democrat, presented his side of the story on Monday to the House Democratic Caucus. He stated that during last November he was a recipient of a letter from a constituent that complained her husband had spent all the family’s money on illegal gambling.

According to the politician he has tried to refer the unfortunate woman to state troopers and Gamblers Anonymous who investigate complaint related to gambling, but it was not possible for his staff to teach her for the reason that she did not have voicemail.

At that stage he did not know the complainant was an undercover investigator from the state.

According to state investigators Gergely was overheard on a wiretap stating that the ringleader suspected of an illegal gambling operations would try to conceal the complaint related to video poker machines.

They allege that the 54-year-old Ronald “Porky” Melocchi was the gambling investigation’s target and he called him to inform him about the complaint, and that he said to Melocchi, who was in charge with running an operation of illegal video poker via his firm Back Alley Vending, that he had decided not file the complaint with the authorities.

Document from court indicate that Melocchi raised the question on whether the complaint would be turned to the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement of the state police, and Gergery responded to it:

“I would not do it. I just want to take care of the problem for you. Obviously she has no idea that we are connected. Maybe you can discover who the guy is and stop him before he creates a real problem, Ok?”

The papers from the court indicate that Mark Holtzman, the local police chief, Melocchi, Daniel K. Carr, the local Councilman, two former police officers from McKeesport and eleven others are to be charged of being involved with the gambling ring.

Seventy bars, banks, homes and other locations were raided by investigators in December. They seized 350 poker machines and some $1 million, according to documents from court.

On Thursday Melochhi has to face a preliminary hearing. There is a claim that he has donated $3,000 to the election campaigns of Gergely since 2006, but the claim of the lawmaker is that he has donated a similar amount to Positive Pathways, a for-profit business from Pittsburgh that tries to help people with addictions to gambling.

The statement of Gergely to Caucus said that his office was in cooperation with investigators in order to provide dates and times in which his staff tried to make contact with the woman concerning her complaint.

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