Betting ring busted

CHESTER -- A Chester man and his wife are among 15 people facing multiple gambling charges after authorities on Wednesday busted a five-year betting ring they say was based in the couple's home.

The couple and others -- 10 who live in Chester and three from surrounding counties -- are expected to turn themselves into authorities on Monday in connection with the ring.

Their names will not be released until they are arrested, police said.

The $20,000-a-week operation that took bets on professional and college football games was based in a Chester house about two miles from J.A. Cochran Bypass, said Detective Scott Thompson of the Chester County Sheriff's Office.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, five people were placing bets in the couple's home at 834 Hughes Road, Thompson said. Another nine showed up and delivered their gambling cards.

"We had people from three counties last night, showing up bringing their cards," Thompson said Thursday. "They were turning in their cards for the NFL game for Sunday. There was one lady who was in the intensive care unit at a hospital who had her son calling in her bets."

Thompson said a booking list includes the names of hundreds of people with Chester, York and Lancaster counties addresses. However, names were not immediately available.

"We had 150 phone calls from people trying to make bets during the hour and a half that we were there," Thompson said.

Officials stationed a patrol car near the home to deter people from coming; however, a determined man circled the block and drove through the yard of a neighboring home to place his bet, Thompson said. That man also will face criminal charges, he said.

A gambling operation of this nature is not the norm in Chester County.

Officials were tipped off last week when a woman called and complained that her husband spent his entire paycheck in a state where gambling is illegal.

Police contend it affects families, leading to unpaid bills and debt.

"This is the largest gambling house that I've seen in Chester since I've been here," Thompson said.

Police say the man is employed in the mill industry while his wife is unemployed.

"She stayed there, answered the phone and took bets during the day," Thompson said.

Two children, middle and high school age, were in the home on Wednesday when police seized an undisclosed amount of money and computer equipment.

Authorities also seized one gun, Thompson said.

The group faces multiple gambling charges, including operating a gambling house.