Most office betting pools are run without any legal incident. Then again, most of them fall well short of holding $800,000 in potential winnings, with participants involving high-profile sports agents and ties to organized crime.
John Bovery was well aware of how much money his office pool was managing, but he had no idea about some of the people involved. Most of them turned out to be people he didn't know. But, as Steve Politi details in The Star-Ledger, Bovery was more than happy to continue managing the pool until the federal authorities discovered the group in 2009.
As Bovery explains, it started small. While working as a Wall Street broker in the early 1990s, he started managing an NFL pool that ran the length of the regular season. The buy-in was $50, and 57 people ultimately took part.
In subsequent years, though, participation shot up -- as did the entry fee. Eight years after starting the pool, the participant list had grown to 2,000 -- and the buy-in was $100. In its last year, 2009, Bovery's pool featured more than 8,300 participants, including high-profile bettors like Tiger Wood's agent.
Federal investigators learned about the pool during an investigation of Joseph LaScala, a crime boss known as the "Godfather of New Jersey." Bovery's connection with LaScala -- a man he had never met -- brought down his office pool and now has him facing felony charges.
Bovery insists that he never made money off the pool, but that he did receive gifts from its participants for managing it year-to-year. Those gifts were apparently enough for Bovery to quit his Wall Street job and get a job as a teacher, which is enough to raise eyebrows.
But Bovery contends that he isn't doing anything that tens of millions of Americans already do, albeit his was on a larger scale. Meanwhile, he lost his teaching job and has had mental and physical suffering from the pre-trial process, which he hopes comes to an end soon -- and sees a jury of his peers give him a break for what he sees as a normal American pastime.