California Gambling Ring Probe Expands As Yasiel Puig Awaits Trial

The story continues to develop around an illegal gambling ring led by former minor league pitcher Wayne Nix.

Los Angeles-based celebrity accountant William “Eric” Fulton joins the list. Fulton, whose firm represents public figures like Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth and Conor McGregor, pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about money laundering actions related to Nix.

The investigation now looks to expand into Nevada. Federal agents are looking into potential ties to Las Vegas casino workers using company assets and providing confidential customer information to the operation.

Nix pleaded guilty to federal crimes last year for running a decades-long underground California sports betting operation that included current and former professional athletes and others in the sports industry.

Former Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig was the highest-profile name from the Homeland Security and IRS Criminal Investigation Division probe, and he awaits a January trial after his not-guilty plea.

Fulton’s trails exposed

According to records, Fulton provided Nix bookkeeping, tax preparation and accounting services for more than $336,000 worth of business between 2010 and 2020. He told the feds in October 2021 that he did not know about Nix’s gambling ties and never placed a bet on his offshore site, Sand Island Sports.

Both were lies.

Fulton allegedly received an account on Nov. 12, 2016, and promptly placed 14 bets. The court filings state that three of those bets were on one of Fulton’s clients. It’s easy to connect the dots and see that McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez in UFC 205 that same night.

McGregor’s name remains clean; there’s no reason to believe he had any involvement in illegal gambling. However, Fulton faces allegations of referring at least one of his clients to Nix’s ring.

And Fulton’s involvement goes deeper. He helped facilitate transactions between accounts. And he even covered a few large wagers for Nix, admitting he provided him $1.25 million worth of interest-free personal loans.

Nevada concerns are legitimate

An unnamed source told the Nevada Current that law enforcement agents have begun interviewing and taking statements from former Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) employees. 

Their efforts have centered around former MGM Grand and current Resorts World President Scott Sibella, believing he had involvement in Nix’s ring on multiple levels.

The NGCB ruled in Sibella’s favor several months ago against allegations of business relationships at Resorts World with a blackballed and convicted illegal gambler. Now, authorities will see if he had involvement with:

  • Using or allowing other employees to use comps and promo chips to square up from gambling debts on Nix’s site
  • Providing Nix’s gambling ring with confidential customer information

If convicted, Sibella would face severe punishment. It would also call into question how safe players’ information is in casinos’ hands. A strike against him is a strike against the industry, and the rest of Vegas will be watching closely.

Puig’s case for innocence

Puig’s name came out of the Nix investigation. Records alleged he lost $283,000 and sent one of Nix’s agents $200,000 in cashier’s checks to cover those losses.

He was interrogated and allegedly lied to federal agents about having no involvement with Nix or anyone in sports gambling. Agents uncovered the paper trail of his checks along with a WhatsApp message with him admitting to lying.

In early 2022, agents requested an interview with Puig that took place virtually. Puig was in South Korea playing baseball. He ultimately entered into a plea deal that would land him in jail for five years.

Then, he changed his story and said he was innocent, wishing to clear his name. His attorney, Keri Axel, claimed Puig did not have an interpreter and did not fully understand the terms of his plea.

Puig’s connection to Nix comes from a man affiliated with the Dodgers organization named Donny Kadokawa. Puig met him when he was playing in Los Angeles. Kadokawa was also an agent for Nix but could become Puig’s ticket to freedom if his only connections were baseball-related. His trial is set for January.

How much deeper does this go?

The records show that Nix created his gambling ring after finishing his pitching career. He used his connections in the game to develop a betting operation. He had three former Major League Baseball players help run it.

Nix admitted to accepting $1 million from a better during one year, another $5 million on a Super Bowl wager in 2019 and bets from a sports broadcaster who refinanced his home to pay off gambling debts.

No additional names have surfaced, but the Department of Justice report mentioned a professional football player who lost $245,000 and an MLB coach who lost $4,000 in 2016.

Law enforcement seems to find a new puzzle piece with each unfolding wrinkle, giving agents more reasons to keep digging.

It remains to be seen how much deeper the story goes.

About the Author