Gardena man pleads guilty to helping operate illegal gambling business

A Gardena man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to helping run an illegal sports betting business by assisting in the collection and payment of gambling proceeds related to a Costa Rica-based website.

Howard Miller, 63, admitted to ‘aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed and illegal betting business that took bets for real money on sporting events from various people’, according to his plea agreement , filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

Sentencing was set for July 27, when Miller faces up to five years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The business remained in operation for at least six years and often generated gross revenues of more than $2,000 in a single day, prosecutors said.

The Miller case is linked to that of Wayne Nix, a former Orange County minor league pitcher, who also pleaded guilty last month, along with his business partner, to helping run the illegal betting operation.

Nix, 45, of Newport Coast, and Edon Kagasoff, 44, of Lake Forest, are both expected to be sentenced in July at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

Nix – who played for the Oakland Athletics farm teams – also admitted to failing to report $1.4 million in earnings in 2017 and 2018, according to his plea agreement.

Prosecutors said Nix started operating a bookmaking business about 20 years ago. Through his athletic contacts, he attracted clients including current and former professional athletes, and he employed three former Major League Baseball players to help him with the business.

Kagasoff joined Nix in the gambling operation around 2014, and they used a website and call center to create accounts for bettors. Nix and his associates paid off the winning bets and kept almost all of the money collected from bettors, prosecutors said.

Under Nix’s plea agreement, he received payments for gambling losses from a professional football player, a Major League Baseball coach, and a baseball analyst.

The plea deal also deals with a bettor who bet $1 million a year on Nix’s operation, a $5 million bet on the 2019 Super Bowl, and a sportscaster who told Nix that he was going to refinance his house to pay off his gambling debts.

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