Brother of Bears legend is charged with Chicago cop, 8 others in offshore sports gambling ring

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CHICAGO — The brother of Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher was among 10 people charged in a federal indictment Thursday alleging they ran an offshore sports gambling ring that raked in millions of dollars from hundreds of Chicago-area gamblers.

Casey Urlacher, 40, who is the mayor of the tiny village of Mettawa in Lake County, was charged with conspiracy and running an illegal gambling business. He is accused of acting as an agent for the gambling ring, recruiting bettors in exchange for a cut of their eventual losses.

Also acting as an agent was Nicholas Stella, 42, a veteran Chicago police officer, according to the 28-page indictment. Police Department records show Stella was stripped of his police powers and assigned to desk duty last May. Stella has spent 18 years on the force.

“Those who enforce the law should understand more than anyone the importance of following the law,” interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck said in a statement Thursday. “The allegations against suspended Police Officer Nicholas Stella are very serious and if proven, they undermine everything the men and women of the Chicago Police Department represent.”

The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Neither Urlacher nor Stella could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

According to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court, the gambling ring operated between 2016 and 2019 and was headed by Vincent Delgiudice, 54, of Orland Park, who went by “Uncle Mick.”

Delgiudice paid a Costa Rica-based sportsbook a service fee to use its online platform and recruited gamblers to place wagers on his website,, according to the indictment. To cover his tracks, Delgiudice often used encrypted messages to communicate with representatives of the sportsbook, the indictment alleged.

To expand the operation, Delgiudice hired people to act as agents and enlist new gamblers. The agents — including Urlacher and Stella — worked with Delgiudice to collect cash and pay out winnings, and were paid a commission based on a percentage of the gamblers’ losses.

The indictment alleged Delgiudice kept in regular contact with all the agents and discussed their clients’ losses — which often totaled tens of thousands of dollars — in coded language.

In December 2018, for example, Urlacher brought in a new gambler who was set up on the website and given a maximum of $3,000 a week in wagers, according to the charges.

That same week, Stella and Delgiudice exchanged text messages about the losses being incurred by some of Stella’s high rollers, according to the charges.

“Between my two big losers in Minnesota, they’ve dumped $73k,” one text from Stella allegedly read.

A week later, Urlacher called Delgiudice and asked him to shut down a gambler’s account due to an unpaid debt, the indictment alleged. After the gambler wired Urlacher $3,000, Urlacher texted Delgiudice and directed him to “turn Gambler C’s account back on,” the indictment said.

Urlacher also met with Delgiudice in southwest suburban Lemont in February 2019 to deliver money owed for gambling losses, according to the indictment.

The charges do not state how many gamblers in all took part in the ring, but in early 2019, Delgiudice told one of his agents by phone that he had 1,006 customers and had won $100,000.

When agents searched Delgiudice’s home in April 2019, they seized nearly $1.1 million in cash and nearly a half-million dollars’ worth of silver bars, gold coins and jewelry, the indictment stated.

In addition to gambling conspiracy, Delgiudice was charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, charges that carry up to 20 years in prison. The indictment also seeks a personal money judgment against Delgiudice of $8 million.

A woman who answered the phone at Delgiudice’s listed home number hung up on a reporter.

Also charged in the indictment was Delgiudice’s father, Eugene, 84, who allegedly helped his son pay out winnings.

Among other “agents” charged in the indictment were Matthew Knight, 46, of Mokena, who is also known as “Sweaters”; Justin Hines, 40, of Algonquin; Keith Benson, 49, of Lombard; Todd Blanken, 43, of Cary; Matthew Namoff, 23, of Midlothian; and Vasilios Prassas, 37, of Chicago.

Arraignment dates for all the defendants have yet to be scheduled.

Casey Urlacher moved with his famous older brother to Lake Bluff in 2000, shortly after Brian Urlacher signed with the Bears.

Casey Urlacher attended Lake Forest College and played football for three seasons. He was invited to the Bears training camp as a fullback in 2003 and signed to a three-year contract, but he never made the team’s regular season roster.

He later had a brief career with the Arena Football League — including a stint with the Chicago Rush as a running back — before entering politics.

Urlacher was elected mayor of Mettawa — population 547 — in 2013 and reelected four years later.

Voice messages and emails to the Mettawa village clerk and village administrator were not immediately returned.

Jim Rhodes, Mettawa’s village attorney, said Thursday he had not read the indictment so he could not comment. He was unaware of the charges until contacted by the Chicago Tribune, he said.

The indictment against Urlacher and his co-defendants was nearly identical to charges brought last year against Michael Frontier, a Chicago man accused of using a Costa Rica-based gambling platform to place wagers by bettors who were recruited by “agents.”

Frontier has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.


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