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Janet Jones Bet $5,000 on a coin toss

WWW- New Jersey cops sprang a Super Bowl surprise on NHL legend Wayne Gretzky and his wife last Sunday – showing up at their house just before the big game to question her about big-money bets she laid down through an illegal gambling ring, sources said yesterday.

Just as she won a $5,000 bet on the game’s coin toss, three New Jersey detectives showed up at the couple’s Arizona home to talk to her about her high-rolling habits, sources said.

An investigation revealed that Janet Jones, 45, had plunked down $500,000 in bets – including $75,000 on the Super Bowl itself – in the five weeks up until cops busted the mob-linked ring allegedly run by the Great One’s assistant coach, Rick Tocchet.

Cops showed up at as the couple settled down to watch the big game at their $2 million, 5,100-square-foot home in Scottsdale, Ariz., just a day before bringing down the 5-year-old ring that operated right beneath Gretzky’s nose.

A spokesman for the couple declined to comment on the meeting, saying: “I have no knowledge or information about that whatsoever.”

Gretzky has denied any involvement in the ring and insists he never placed any bets either directly or through his wife – a claim she has supported.

But the depth of his knowledge has come into question.

When first approached for comment after the story broke on Tuesday, Gretzky denied any knowledge, uttering somewhat flippantly, “I don’t know, you’d have to ask [my wife].”

Then on Thursday, sources revealed that his voice showed up on a police wiretap talking to Tocchet about how to keep his wife’s name out of the ensuing ice storm. Sources now indicate Gretzky had no knowledge of the investigation prior to the cops showing up at his door Sunday and that the conversation with Tocchet occurred that night.

On Monday, two of Tocchet’s alleged accomplices – New Jersey State Trooper James Harney and James Ulmer – were arrested. It was revealed that the ring was linked to the Philadelphia mob and at least a half-dozen current NHL players had placed bets through it.

While neither Gretzky nor Jones likely face any criminal charges, she may be compelled to testify before grand jury, their spokesman said. They are shopping around for a high-powered criminal attorney just in case, sources said.

News of the multimillion-dollar operation has stunned the National Hockey League and cast a shroud over the Turin Winter Olympics – where Gretzky is coaching the Canadian team and rumors swirl over which players are involved. Jones confirmed yesterday she’ll accompany her husband to the Games.

While police have not publicly identified any of the players involved, several names have emerged, including Los Angeles Kings center Jeremy Roenick and Boston Bruins center Travis Green. Roenick has denied involvement; Green has declined to comment.

Authorities say none of the bets appears to have been put on hockey games.

Tocchet – a four-time all-star and Stanley Cup winner – has been put on an indefinite leave of absence by the NHL, which has hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate. NHL players are prohibited from betting on hockey games, but there are no rules barring them from placing legal bets on other sports.

A second New Jersey state trooper has been suspended in connection with the ring.


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