SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — We are in the midst of March Madness – the annual frenzy of over college basketball – and many people have filled out brackets or know people running pools.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, one New Jersey man was busted for his tournament pool.

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What started out as a small office pool — $5 here, $10 there – quickly grew into an $800,000 pool and landed John Bovery in trouble with the law.

Bovery sad his pool at first was all fun and games — until detectives showed up at his home in Sayreville.

“(They said), ‘Show us where the cash is; show us the bank slips,’” He said.

He said they flipped his mattress and searched every crevice, looking for cash.

Hosting multiple sports pools, Bovery said he recorded every exchange and kept the bids in the bank. He also claims he did not charge an entry fee, but winners would often give him what he called gifts amounting to thousands of dollars.

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According to New Jersey state law, taking any share of the entry fee is seen as engaging in illegal bookmaking activities.

“People started giving me gifts, and yes, they became substantial at times,” Bovery said. “I really didn’t think I was breaking the law.”

Bovery is facing charges of money laundering and promoting gambling. His pool, started 20 years ago, drew more than 8,000 entries from around the world. He said high-profile people such as Tiger Woods’ agent, PGA tour golfers, and TV sportscasters whom he would not name were part of it.

Gaming expert Marc Edelman said there is a gray area in the law.

“The criminal attorney that’s defending him will try to argue that there’s ambiguity in the statute, and that the gift is not an entry fee, but something entirely different,” said Edelman, a professor at Baruch College.

Bovery said he is fighting to return the money to those who participated in the pool.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office refused to comment, because the case is ongoing. Bovery is due back in court in June.

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The FBI estimates that at least $2.5 billion is illegally wagered each year on March Madness. According to the NCAA, that is more than the Super Bowl.