Marc Gerlgerly pleaded not guilty

Gergely appeared yesterday (Wednesday) at his arraignment in Pittsburgh and entered the plea.
Gergely appeared yesterday (Wednesday) at his arraignment in Pittsburgh and entered the plea.

The Pennsylvania lawmaker was accused of using his political influence to benefit an illegal video gambling ring.

US.- Pennsylvania State Rep. Marc Gergely was accused of trying to help Ronald “Porky” Melocchi expand his illegal video gambling business into restaurants and other locations. Gergely has pleaded not guilty as he faces charges of committing three felonies, which include dealing in the proceeds of illegal activity and two counts of corrupt organizations and three misdemeanours. The preliminary hearing will be on March 30 and District Judge Tom Swan allowed Gergely to remain free without posting bond.

According to Mark Serge, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Gergely was a key piece in an illegal video gambling operation, which ran some 335 machines at 70 restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and other locations outside Pittsburgh. The AG also said that the lawmaker is one of more than a dozen people charged in the McKeesport-area gambling probe and more people, including public officials, could be charged as the investigation unfolds.

“The allegations show what I would consider the insidious nature of organised crime,” said Serge. “You have relationship and money that tends to infiltrate the political system and individuals get caught up in that.”

Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, the ringleader, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to 10 years of probation after his McKeesport organisation was raided in 2013. The grand jury found that Melocchi relied on his connections to local officials to persuade business owners to install the machines, getting 40 percent of the proceeds in the process.

“This is an ongoing criminal investigation, we do anticipate more charges in this matter,” added Serge. “It could involve other individuals that are involved in the political system and had any kind of relationships with Mr. Melocchi and his organisation.”