Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Legislator Sentenced in Probe of Gambling

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Former Legislator Sentenced in Probe of Gambling

Article excerpt

Marc Gergely, the former state representative linked through wiretapped phone conversations to an illegal million-dollar video gambling ring that once operated in the Mon Valley, was sentenced Monday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to 18 months of house arrest.

The ex-lawmaker, a White Oak Democrat, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy involving gambling devices and violating the state's election law regarding cash contributions.

Judge Edward J. Borkowski presided over the case and tacked on three years of probation to the sentence.

Mr. Gergely, 48, along with prominent liquor license attorney Louis F. Caputo of Peters, pleaded guilty to criminal charges for helping Ronald "Porky" Melocchi place illegal gambling devices in various bars and other establishments in the Mon Valley. They gave the appearance of Melocchi having "friends in high places" to persuade reluctant business owners to install the devices, according to the prosecution.

The arrests of Mr. Gergely and Mr. Caputo were an extension of a probe dubbed "Operation Pork Chop" that led to the seizure of 335 video gambling machines in December 2012. That probe led to the arrests of 16 people in 2013, including Melocchi, a former McKeesport councilman and the former Forward police chief.

Mr. Gergely was arrested in February 2016. The affidavit supporting the charges stated that Mr. Gergely used his political influence to help Melocchi, a longtime friend of the legislator's father, get video poker machines into various bars and other establishments as part of his million-dollar enterprise.

In June 2015, Melocchi, 58, of West Newton, pleaded guilty to three offenses - a felony charge of corrupt organizations and misdemeanor counts of gambling devices and engaging in pool selling/bookmaking - in exchange for prosecutors dropping 54 other counts. He was sentenced to a decade of probation.

Mr. Caputo, 40, pleaded guilty in August to criminal solicitation and was sentenced to five years of probation.

Mr. Gergely resigned his seat in the Legislature on Nov. 6, the day his sentencing was initially scheduled. …

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