John P. Garrick and Claire Van Wagner say they weren't doing anything that thousands of other people aren't doing.
The Rhode Island state police say they were only doing their duty.The result is that Garrick and Van Wagner, both state employees, have been arrested for running a $5-a-bet office pool on the NCAA basketball tournament.
The state police acknowledged that the pool is no different than those that exist in hundreds of offices across the state. But they said they had no choice but to investigate after they got an anonymous tip.
Garrick, 43, a recruiting specialist for the Department of Environmental Management, surrendered to state police Wednesday and was charged with promoting a lottery, a felony. His maximum penalty is a $2,000 fine and two years in jail.
Wagner, 34, a data control clerk at the Department of Education, was arrested on Monday and charged with possession of lottery slips, a misdemeanor.
Police confiscated 24 betting slips, a white envelope with 41 names written on it and $210, Detective Steven Pare said.
Wagner's maximum penalty is a $500 fine and a year in jail.
"I can't believe this," Wagner said. "It's not like I'm a bookie or anything. I really didn't know it was illegal."
She said there had been an NCAA pool in the office for the past four years.
Wagner is still working but Garrick has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary hearing March 31.