Priest Gugliotta

Poker-Playing Priest Gugliotta Sentenced in Child-Porn Case

One of the most bizarre poker-connected tales in recent memory reached its peak late last week when New Jersey’s poker-playing priest, Kevin Gugliotta, was sentenced to between 11-1/2 and 23-1/2 months in prison for possession of child pornography.

Gugliotta, a resident of New Jersey, uploaded the porn to an internet chat room from an apartment in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. Gugliotta was arrested in New Jersey and was then extradited to Pennsylvania for the court proceedings.

As for the poker, Gugliotta was a veteran tourney participant. That would have been an odd enough sidelight to his priestly profession on its own, barring the newsy part of the tale: Gugliotta has an extensive Hendon Mob profile, having logged 58 prominent poker-tourney cashes, mostly in New Jersey but also in Las Vegas and southern California. Those cashes stretch from June of 2003 all the way to last September, totalling $202,365. That total ranked Gugliotta in the top 5,000 in the US and the top 9,000 worldwide in recorded lifetime, major-tourney earnings.

It’s that poker connection that put Gugliotta into plenty of extra mainstream headlines over the weekend, as it turned out. As first reported by New Jersey news station KNEP, Gugliotta claimed in his pre-sentencing testimong that the poker was to blame for the kiddie-porn stuff. More specifically — and more bizarrely — Gugliotta claimed that he was “punishing God” by downloading the kiddie porn, out of revenge, because God had seemingly been punishing him by inflicting him with poker losses of late.

“That was his reason. He’s not happy that’s how he felt, as the judge indicated. There are other ways to handle issues and handle anger,” said Gugliotta’s attorney, Jim Swetz.

It’s just hard for a sane mind to grasp the totality of that line of reasoning, but sane or not, that’s what Gugliotta claimed. It’s also what brought his case to the attention of far more than local news outelts. Gugliotta actually pled guilty back in March, but because there was no poker connection in those printed reports, the story never made its way into poker-media outlets.

Gugliotta initially faced some 20 counts of possession of the child pornography, plus another 20 counts related to the distribution of the images. As appears to be the norm in this type of case, Gugliotta pled guilty to a single count, while the others were dismissed as part of the deal. Gugliotta could have faced seven years in jail on each of the 40 counts, though such a sentence was unlikely from the outset.

Gugliotta also gets credit for time served, and since he’s already been incarcerated since his arrest late last October, he could be released in another month or two. Gugliotta will also be on probation for five years and be a registered sex offender for 25 years in total.

And though this is just an assumption, it’s also likely that Gugliotta’s terms of probation will include a rider forbidding him from participating in any gambling activities during the length of his probation. Gugliotta was removed from active service at the time of his arrest by the Archdiocese of New Jersey, though it is not clear — local news accounts differ — as to whether he’s been defrocked.

It’s such a strange case all the way around. It goes without saying that there’s some gambling addiction in play here. Some of the strangest addiction tales in recent years have emerged from religiously-restrictive backgrounds, and this one certainly gets added to the list.

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