Inquirer staff writer George Anastasia reports:

The alleged leaders of an illegal sports betting ring that operated from the poker room of a posh Atlantic City casino have pleaded guilty to loansharking and money-laundering charges and face possible five-year prison sentences.

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced the plea agreements this morning.  Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Feb. 13 before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Donio.

Jack Buscemi, 51, of Mullica Hill, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Andrew Micali, 33, of Ventnor, pleaded guilty to criminal usury.

The pleas, entered during a hearing late Monday afternoon before Donio, were the result of several months of negotiations in the high profile case.

About 20 more defendants still face gambling and related charges. Several are expected to enter pleas at a hearing set for Thursday in Atlantic County.

Dubbed "Operation High Roller," the investigation focused on what state police alleged was a multi-million dollar sports betting operation run out of the high stakes poker lounge of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

Authorities allege the operation was tied to South Philadelphia organized crime figures, including Anthony Nicodemo who is also a defendant in the case.

Read more breaking news in our From The Source blog.