California Illegal Sportsbook Accountant Guilty of Lying to Feds

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William Eric Fulton, a 59-year-old accountant from Agoura Hills, California, has recently confessed to making false statements related to an unlawful betting operation involving two former baseball players.

Fulton was associated with Wayne Joseph Nix, a 46-year-old former minor-league baseball player from Newport Coast, who is accused of heading up an illicit bookmaking business. Sand Island Sports was open for more than 10 years and handled millions of dollars in bets.

The accountant could face up to five years in prison. He has also been ordered to pay $673,290 in fines, according to an official report on the case from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers MLB player Yasiel Puig Valdes (pictured) has also been charged with making false statements in relation to the case.

Fulton’s Involvement in the Illicit Operation

Fulton, who was providing accounting services to Nix, was instrumental in laundering the proceeds from the illegal gambling activities.

He facilitated the movement of funds between accounts, issued checks, wired money to clients who won substantial bets, and helped Nix secure bank loans to support the gambling business. Over a decade, from 2010 to 2020, Fulton received approximately $336,645 in fees from Nix for his financial services.

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

“Securing a guilty plea, in this case, speaks to the professionalism and commitment of the El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force to hold accountable those engaged in illicit financial crimes.”

Fulton’s Personal Bets and Falsehoods

In addition to his professional involvement, Fulton also admitted to personally participating in the gambling activities.

From March 2011 to October 2019, he provided Nix with personal loans totaling $1.25 million at no cost, enabling Nix to pay his gambling clients.

Not only did he run accountancy, but Fulton himself also placed personal bets through Nix’s Sand Island Sports website. That included 14 bets placed in a single day, including three on a match involving one of his legitimate accountancy clients. He also referred at least one of his clients to Nix for illegal gambling services.

However, when interviewed by federal law enforcement officials in October 2021, Fulton denied any knowledge of Nix’s involvement in sports gambling, falsely claiming he was unaware of Nix’s bookmaking activities and denying ever placing a bet with Nix.

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Sentencing for Involved Parties

Fulton is due to appear before U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on November 29 for sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and has agreed to pay a fine of no less than $673,290.

Meanwhile, Nix pleaded guilty in April 2022 to a count of conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business and a count of subscribing to a false tax return. His sentencing is set for March 6, 2024.

Nix’s associate, Edon Yoshida Kagasoff, 45, of Lake Forest, also pleaded guilty in April 2022 to a count of conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business. Kagasoff was sentenced on July 5 to six months of probation, fined $1K, and ordered to forfeit $3,164,563.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers MLB player Yasiel Puig Valdes, 32, is also implicated in the case. He is charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement investigating Nix’s illegal gambling operation. His trial is scheduled to commence on Jan. 16, 2024.

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