TRENTON, N.J. – Wayne Gretzky's wife and a Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach might sue New Jersey for $50 million each, contending their reputations were damaged after state officials leaked information from wiretaps in a case involving a multimillion-dollar sports betting ring.
In two separate notices — often a precursor to a lawsuit — the attorneys named the New Jersey Department of Law and the State Police for allegedly leaking information to the media about recorded conversations; the notices were both filed May 8 in Trenton.
Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, was linked to the ring allegedly run by Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, a former NHL player and close friend of her husband, the Coyotes coach.
New Jersey authorities announced charges in February against Tocchet, a New Jersey state trooper and another New Jersey man for running a nationwide sports gambling operation. State police said wagers — primarily on professional football — exceeded $1.7 million during a five week investigation period leading up to the Super Bowl.
Jones is believed to have placed large bets through Tocchet. She has not been charged with any crime but is expected to be subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating gambling activity, attorneys said.
Tocchet is on an indefinite leave from the Coyotes.
Tocchet's notice indicated that if a lawsuit is filed, he'll seek $50 million for the damage to his reputation, his current salary loss, the loss of future employment opportunities as a head coach of an NHL team and future endorsement opportunities.
His notice cites 10 news stories where some contents of recorded conversations were publicly reported.
Jones's notice said she "suffered significant damage to her reputation and lost business opportunities."
Attorneys for Tocchet and Jones said their clients have two years to file a lawsuit although they may ultimately choose not to sue. Neither attorney would comment further.
In an interview with the AP on March 15, Attorney General Zulima Farber said authorities would convene a grand jury to hear evidence in the gambling case within months. Farber's office had no comment Thursday on the notices and didn't respond to questions about when a grand jury would be called.