Former minor league baseball player among those charged with running illegal sports gambling operation

Federal authorities on Thursday released details of an illegal sports betting ring that was run in part by a former minor league baseball player and involved current and former professional athletes and a sports broadcaster.

Five California men and a check-cashing company were charged in the bookmaking operation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California. Charges included operating an illegal gambling business, tax fraud and money laundering.

Wayne Nix, 45, of Newport Coast, California, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business that took millions of dollars in bets through a Costa Rica-based website, Sand Island Sports, according to the Department of Justice. He faces up to eight years in prison.

Nix, a fourth-round draft pick of the Oakland A's in 1995, began operating the bookmaking operation around 2002, court documents show. He was in the A's farm system until 2001.

According to the Department of Justice, Nix used his contacts in the sports world to develop a client list that included current and former professional athletes. He employed three former Major League Baseball players to assist with the business, according to the Department of Justice.

Nix's plea agreement, which was unsealed this week, highlights multiple incidents with unnamed professional athletes, coaches and a sports broadcaster:

  • On Jan. 7, 2016, Nix received a check for $245,000 from a professional football player for gambling losses.

  • On May 31, 2016, Nix received $4,000 from a Major League Baseball coach.

  • On Feb. 13, 2019, Nix agreed to reactivate the betting account of a sports broadcaster, who said he was refinancing his home mortgage to pay his outstanding gambling debt.

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, also were charged as part of the bookmaking operation and have accepted plea agreements, according to the Department of Justice. Celebrity Financial LLC, doing business as Sherman Oaks Check Cashing, was charged with failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program related to cashing at least $18 million in bets from the illegal gambling business.

MLB began looking into the matter when it learned of it Thursday, but was unaware of those involved other than Nix, a spokesman said.

The Department of Homeland Security and the IRS are continuing to investigate the matter, according to the Department of Justice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.