Guilty Plea in Illegal Gambling Operation Uncovered in California


Posted on: July 28, 2023, 10:19h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2023, 10:19h.

A California accountant pleaded guilty this week in a case related to illegal gaming. Authorities stated that a former professional baseball player and other athletes are also involved in the scandal.

Yasiel Puig Valdes
Yasiel Puig Valdes, pictured above. The baseball player faces a trial as another suspect recently pled guilty in the gambling probe. (Image: AP)

 

The accountant, William Eric Fulton, 59, from Agoura Hills, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to falsifying statements.

Fulton provided accounting services to Wayne Joseph Nix, 46, from Newport Coast, Calif. Nix, a former minor-league baseball player, is accused of running an illegal bookmaking operation for approximately 20 years.

Fulton allegedly helped launder Nix’s illegal gambling earnings, according to prosecutors.

Fulton is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on November 29 for sentencing.

The maximum sentence is five years in prison. He has also agreed to pay a fine of at least $673,290.

Transfers were made between accounts for large bets, and checks were issued. Fulton also assisted Nix in obtaining bank loans.

Lies Told to Feds

Fulton also lied to federal officials about his activities, prosecutors said.

Lying to federal law enforcement officials in an attempt to cover up criminal activity is a serious offense,” Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang said in a statement.

Between March 2011 and October 2019, Fulton gave Nix no-cost personal loans on three occasions, totaling $1.25 million. Nix used the money to pay gambling clients, prosecutors stated.

Fulton himself also made personal bets through Nix using the Sand Island Sports website.

Fulton allegedly placed 14 bets in a single day, three of which were on a match involving one of his clients.

Fulton also referred one or more clients to Nix for participation in illegal gambling.

In October 2021, Fulton denied knowledge of Nix’s involvement in sports gambling and claimed to be unaware that Nix was a bookmaker. He also denied placing a bet with Nix, but prosecutors assert that these statements were false.

Between 2010 and 2020, Nix paid Fulton $336,645.

Other Suspects

In addition, Nix pleaded guilty in April 2022 to conspiring to operate an illegal gambling business and filing a false tax return. His sentencing is scheduled for March 6, 2024.

Nix’s partner, Edon Yoshida Kagasoff, 45, from Lake Forest, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to conspiring to operate an illegal gambling business. Kagasoff was sentenced on July 5 to six months of probation, fined $1,000, and required to forfeit $3,164,563.

Yasiel Puig Valdes, 32, a former Major League Baseball right fielder, is also accused of lying to federal investigators during their probe.

Valdes played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians. He is charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements.

His trial is scheduled to begin on January 16, 2024.

The El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force participated in the investigation.

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