Ex-Lakes Region GM pleads guilty to gambling charge

Richard Hart, the former general manager of Lakes Region Greyhound Park in Belmont, pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal gambling April 6 in New York City. His former assistant, Jonathan Broome, was sentenced the same day to a year’s probation on the same charge.Hart is scheduled to be sentenced July 20. He faces a maximum of two years in prison.

Broome received the mildest possible sentence, given the crime, said his attorney, Richard E. Signorelli, who called his client “one of the most law-abiding hard-working individuals I have ever met.”

Broome, he said, “honestly did not know he was committing any criminal offense. He was informed by his employer that the company was acting lawfully. That information turned out to be incorrect.”

Hart and Broome were originally charged with being part of a vast illegal gambling conspiracy involving 15 other defendants, horse doping and fake Social Security numbers, among other charges. Some of the other defendants had alleged ties to organized crime.

Specifically, Hart and Broome were charged — through their involvement with Concord-based International Players Association — as acting as a conduit between a New York organization called the Uvari Group and Euro Off-Track, an offshore betting operation on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.

In the end, the two pleaded guilty to wiring $100,000 in illegal gambling proceeds from a bank in New Hampshire to banks in New Jersey and New York, where such betting operations are not legal.

Although the legal consequences might be relatively minor, the repercussions to the Belmont track were not. The federal charges, and revelations that Hart and two of his brothers — also track employees — had previous gambling convictions, led to a state investigation that eventually caused track managing partner Alan Hart to give up the track’s operating license and sell the facility.

The new ownership, Torguson Gaming Group, of Biloxi, Miss., plans to reopen the track in May.

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