Former MLB player Yasiel Puig agreed to a plea deal that could land him a prison sentence of several years, in a case stemming from a federal probe of an illegal gambling operation.
Puig is set to plead guilty Tuesday to making false statements to federal law enforcement officials, according to a news release issued Monday by the Justice Department. His punishment in the plea agreement is currently unknown. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Puig also agreed to a fine of at least $55,000.
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law,” United States Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “The integrity of our nation’s criminal justice system depends on people telling the truth, and those who fail to abide by this simple principal must face consequences.”
IRS criminal investigation officer Tyler Hatcher said, “When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with [bookmaker Wayne Joseph Nix]’s Gambling businesses, Mr. Puig chose not to. Mr. Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors.”
According to the release, Puig placed bets with a third party, identified as Agent 1, who was working for Nix, a 46-year-old former minor league baseball player who was charged this past March in connection with allegedly running a multi-million dollar gambling ring in the Los Angeles area.
Nix pled guilty in April to one count each of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. He is set to be sentenced next March.
The Justice Department’s release says Puig lost nearly $283,000 between May and June of 2019. After paying Agent 1 $200,000 in cashier’s checks, Puig continued to place nearly 900 bets on tennis, football and basketball games between July and September of 2019.
Puig played for the Dodgers from 2013 through 2018, and played for the Reds and Guardians in 2019. He currently plays professionally in South Korea.
Yasiel Puig while with the Dodgers. Photo courtsey of MediaNews Group via Getty Images