Former Baseball Player Pleads Guilty to Illegal Gambling Ring Involving Professional Athletes & Broadcaster
Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images. Oakland Coliseum
Five men in a Southern California gambling ring have agreed to plead guilty to federal crimes for their roles in an illegal sports betting operation, according to findings federal authorities released on Thursday.
The group, led by former Oakland Athletics minor league baseball pitcher Wayne Nix, took wagers from professional athletes. The ring also took bets from a sports broadcaster.
In documents unsealed in the United States District Court on Wednesday, the key members of the operation agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and admitted they took in millions of dollars in bets.
The platform for the sports wagering was a Costa Rica-based gambling website.
The owner of the online gambling business and website, Joseph Castelao, pleaded guilty and admitted the business was illegal under California law because it involved at least five people, operated for at least six years and often had a gross revenue of over $2,000 on a single day.
Nix was charged with one count of conspiring to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return.
Authorities also charged Nix’s longtime partner, Edon Kagasoff, with one count of conspiring to operate an illegal sports gambling business. Two other individuals were also charged with crimes related to the operation.
According to the findings, Nix started operating the business 20 years ago. He used his connections in the sports world to develop a client list that included current and former professional athletes.
Nix’s plea agreement included specific incidents such as receiving payments for gambling losses from a professional football player, an MLB coach and a baseball broadcaster. It was noted the broadcaster said he was refinancing his house to pay off the gambling debt.
The plea agreement also showed Nix once took a $5 million bet on the 2019 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams.
Nix admitted to receiving more than $1.4 million in income that he failed to report in 2017 and 2019 tax returns. One of Nix’s partners, Kenneth Arsenian, admitted that he failed to report over $2.8 million in income from 2015 to 2018.
Court records did not include whether any of the professional athletes used their accounts to bet on their own team’s games.
It is still an ongoing investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS, according to the Department of Justice.