WCHA Official Has A Record Of Consistency
MINNEAPOLIS — A longtime Minnesota hockey official is still working even though he has a criminal record for sports gambling and bookmaking.
Michael Heichert of Richfield has officiated in the WCHA despite at least 14 criminal charges being filed against him over the past 19 years, court records indicated (thats less charges than the 2005-06 All-Bad Boyz Team, but still...).
The 43-year-old was convicted of a drug conspiracy misdemeanor after police caught him with seven bags of marijuana and about $2,500 in cash during an August 1987 sting (it was medical marijuana, wink, wink).
A felony charge followed in January 1990 when police accused him of accepting $2 million in wagers on sports, including high school hockey (who the heck bets on high school hockey. Somebody call Gamblers Anonymous). Heichert pleaded guilty and later withdrew the plea after his case was sent towards dismissal on the condition that he pay a $1,000 fine and abstain from criminal activity for a year (easier said than done).
Between 1990 and 1996, he faced allegations of driving with a revoked license, driving while under the influence of alcohol and several other motor vehicle infringements (damn cops).
In December 1999, Heichert had felony charges filed against him for gambling and sports bookmaking. He was accused of taking around $850,000 as sports wagers between August 1998 and January 1999, though no evidence indicated he gambled on hockey (Obviously Mrs. Gretzky wasn't a client), Minnesota Gambling Enforcement agents said.
Prosecutors plea bargained with Heichert in August 2000, which resulted in two years of probation, 45 days on work squad duty (Everybody sing...thats the sound of the men workin' on the chain gang...)and a fine of $3,000. Following probation, the felony became a misdemeanor – which Heichert tried having expunged from his record in November 2005, but a judge disagreed in a ruling earlier this year (damn judge).
Throughout this period, he continued officiating in leagues across the United States (Hey, a guys got to work).
“I think I have paid my debt to society,” Heichert said. “I’m a law-abiding citizen and have not broke the law since that last thing (And OJ hasn't killed anybody in the past 10 years).”
He started with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2004 and remained there through this season. Other experience included several seasons journeying around hockey’s minor leagues with stints in the CHL and UHL before working in the SPHL this season.
“Michael Heichert did work for the WCHA as an assistant referee,” Greg Shepherd, the league’s supervisor of officials, said, “but is no longer working for us (from now on we're going to hire "honest referees").”
Heichert denied further comment, insisting he is reformed.