Yasiel Puig, once a star outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal authorities about sports bets with an illegal gambling ring, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Puig was to appear before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to deliver his guilty plea Tuesday. Puig would also pay a fine of at least $55,000 and faces a possible maximum of five years in prison.
According to his plea agreement filed Aug. 29, Puig began placing illegal sports bets in May 2019 via a person identified in court documents as Agent 1, who worked for a gambling ring run by former minor-league baseball player Wayne Nix.
By June 2019, Puig had run up a debt of $282,900 with the Nix operation. He had to withdraw $200,000 to buy two cashier’s checks to a third-party, Individual A, whom the ring owed winnings to. This payment restored Puig’s access to Nix’s websites.
From July 4, 2019, to Sept. 29 that year, Puig placed 899 more bets through Nix on basketball, football and tennis events.
Last January, Puig lied to federal investigators about his involvement with the Nix ring, saying he knew Agent 1 only from baseball and that one of the June 2019 checks was for an unknown person and website after losing a $200,000 bet.
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Puig went on to admit he lied to federal agents about sending a message to an Individual B in a WhatsApp message last March. Nix pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business in April.
“When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix’s Gambling businesses, Mr. Puig chose not to. Mr. Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors,” Tyler Hatcher, a special agent in the IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office, said in the Justice Department release.
Puig, who played for the Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians from 2013-19, is currently a member of the South Korean league’s Kiwoom Heroes.