Federal officials disclosed information on Thursday of illegal sports betting ring led in part by a former minor league baseball player and involving current and past professional athletes as well as a sports broadcaster.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California prosecuted five California men and a check-cashing corporation in connection with the bookmaking activity. The charges against him included illicit gambling, tax evasion, and money laundering.
According to the Department of Justice, Wayne Nix, 45, of Newport Coast, California, consented to plead guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling enterprise that accepted millions of dollars in wagers through a Costa Rica-based website, Sand Island Sports. He risks a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.
Nix, a 1995 Oakland A’s fourth-round draught pick, began conducting the bookmaking company about 2002, according to court filings. Until 2001, he was a member of the A’s farm system.
According to the Department of Justice, Nix cultivated a client list that includes current and past professional sportsmen through his relationships in the sports industry. According to the Department of Justice, he employed three former Major League Baseball players to assist him with the firm.
Nix’s guilty bargain, which was unsealed this week, details several instances involving unidentified professional athletes, coaches, and a sports broadcaster:
Nix received a cheque for $245,000 from a professional football player for gambling losses on Jan. 7, 2016.
Nix received $4,000 from a Major League Baseball coach on May 31, 2016.
On Feb. 13, 2019, Nix agreed to reopen the betting account of a sports broadcaster who claimed to be refinancing his mortgage in order to pay off his outstanding gambling obligation.
Edon Kagasoff, 44, of Lake Forest; Howard Miller, 63, of Gardena; Kenneth Arsenian, 52, of Newport Beach; and Joseph Castelao, 56, of Rancho Palos Verdes, were also accused in connection with the bookmaking enterprise and have entered into plea agreements with the Department of Justice. Celebrity Financial LLC, doing business as Sherman Oaks Check Cashing, has been charged with failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in connection with the cashing of at least $18 million in bets from an illegal gambling operation.
MLB initiated an investigation Thursday after learning of the incident, but was unaware of those engaged other than Nix, a spokeswoman said.
According to the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service are still investigating the case.