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Then we discussed which games we would do business on. Sweeney took out one of those little schedule cards, circled the games he thought they could fool with, and gave the card to me. They kept saying they thought they had a good team and they liked the idea of just shaving points and not blowing games. The thing that got me was they were familiar with betting, they knew about spreads, they were not dumb kids. They knew how to shave, because when I tried to explain to them, they said, "Naw, we know all that s—."
The players also wanted to make sure they'd get their money right after each game. I'd either wire the money to Perla or send it by a messenger, like Judy. Or sometimes I would have other business dealings with the Pittsburgh guys, so it would just be a bookkeeping thing, moving figures from one column to the other. I knew Perla was wiring the money to Kuhn a lot of the time because that would be the quickest. We wouldn't use our names on wires. Sometimes we used the name of someone like Paul's girl friend.
Through all this, the players were gung-ho. One hundred percent. Now they're trying to con me, talk me, persuade me. I've been involved in quite a bit of betting and I definitely know the score. But there they sat, drinking my wine in my hotel suite, and more or less trying to convince me that it's absolutely a 100% sure deal. They were selling me. They were the salesmen, not me.
I'm thinking everything is going so great that I better show a little bravado. See, I'm thinking if they don't do what they're supposed to, all that happens is they don't get their $2,500. Meanwhile, I'll be out $25,000, $30,000, whatever. So I say, "Don't play games with me. We're not talking about cigarette money. We're talking about serious money." The meeting took about two hours, and, as it happened, our first game to shave was the next night against Harvard. So we stayed over.
Kuhn gave us four tickets, right behind Sweeney's parents. So there are me, Judy, Tony and Rocca sitting right in the middle of the Boston College section, drinking beer and rooting like hell for Harvard to lose by less than 12. I got a little nervous because everybody was turning around looking at us, staring. In my work, you don't want nobody staring. I felt great. I watched the boys throw the ball out of bounds, and it was gorgeous. Here are a few examples. Sweeney has a great night with 18 points, if you just look at the box score, but three times I saw him throw the ball away. Kuhn seemed to be doing his part, too. On one play he fumbled the ball out of bounds. On another play he fouled a guy but the basket counted. The Harvard player missed the free throw, but the ball bounced over Kuhn, and the same Harvard guy grabbed it, drove around Kuhn and scored. I liked what I saw. I mean Kuhn was pretty bad.
I bet $15,000 on this first game, just testing the waters. The waters tested fine. Everybody went home happy not only because BC won, which is good for the coach and the fans, but because they won by only 86-83, which was good for me and my people. And it was especially gratifying for Sweeney and Kuhn.
It seemed like the start of a nice marriage. I saw Sweeney doing things, and I thought, "Ahhhhh, that's my boy." I enjoyed it a lot. Wouldn't you? Right after the game I gave Rocca $5,000, all in hundreds, for the players. I didn't get down for that much on the game. I made some money. Jimmy probably made $10,000, Perry maybe $15,000. After the game my group went to a bar across the street for a little champagne and a good time.
Now the UCLA game was coming up, and Tony was talking to Kuhn almost every day. Tony said we're on, and I said, "Fine, beautiful with me." So now I was reaching out for more bookmakers because I wanted to get down for more money. This was real easy money, but I knew any normal book would become suspicious real quick if I kept calling up with bets only against Boston College. I got down pretty good, maybe $25,000, $30,000. and it worked out great.
Look at me. I'm making money, my partners are making money, a few of the bookies I've let in on the deal are making money, and the players are getting paid. Yes, sir, I had come a long way. I was born and raised in Brooklyn and I started gambling at age 7 by playing cards in the schoolyard for nickels and dimes. Mine was the kind of neighborhood where half of us grew up to be cops and the other half grew up to be robbers. I like betting on sports and I've done them all. In fact. I made a killing on college basketball in 1970-71. I'd like to say I'm pretty good, but the truth is I'm way behind. There is no way I'm a winner. So I don't gamble anymore. It's a trap, a terrible habit. Oh, I did backslide last month and bet $200 on the Super Bowl. Naturally, I lost.
I think of myself as a good guy now. I'm trying to make amends because prior to this I did some things I shouldn't have. But I've always been a gentleman, always. And my best days are ahead of me because I'm becoming a better man. As to being scared right now, I try not to think about it.