Two men charged with running an illegal gambling ring over the past few years were sentenced to 18 months' probation Monday and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution.

William J. Beatty, 34, of West Valley City, and John P. Bertolina, 36, of West Jordan, each pleaded guilty to six counts of gambling promotion, a class A misdemeanor, and one count of pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, in connection with a sports bookmaking operation.The two U.S. Postal Service workers were originally charged with 12 counts of gambling promotion, but prosecutors agreed to drop the other six charges in exchange for their guilty pleas.

Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs arrested the two men in April during a sting operation that had been under way for nearly a year. Investigators said as many as 174 customers were involved in the operation, with thousands of dollars being exchanged weekly.

Informants working for the sheriff's office placed bets on college and professional sports games with the two defendants and paid off their losses personally to the men, according to search warrants filed in 3rd Circuit Court.

But 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy said the gambling ring appeared to be a "low-budget" operation in which no other laws were broken. He said presentence reports prepared for the men indicated positive things about them and said the reports appeared to be "like Boy Scout reviews." He agreed that incarceration was unnecessary.

Murphy sentenced the duo to 18 months' probation and ordered them to pay a $500 fine and $25,000 in restitution between them. The only condition of the probation is that they pay the money to the Salt Lake County Sheriff's office to pay for the cost of the investigation.

Bertolina apologized to the judge before the sentence was imposed. "I made a mistake, and I apologize to the court and to my family. It's very embarrassing and will never happen again," he said.

Ron Yengich, attorney for Bertolina, said both men showed "genuine remorse" for their involvement and said they have not been in trouble with the law before. "Neither one of them are the type of people normally associated with gambling," he said.

Deputies seized various bank accounts, documents, cash and jewelry from the two men when they were arrested, but Yengich said most of the items were not associated with the gambling operation.