Ex-Dodgers Outfielder Yasiel Puig Pleads Guilty To Lying To Federal Authorities Amid Gambling Investigation

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder/slugger Yasiel Puig has pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to federal authorities. Puig was being investigated for gambling he allegedly participated in back in May 2019. The Department of Justice released an official statement regarding the case against Puig, who is scheduled for a court appearance next week.

“A former Major League Baseball (MLB) player has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge for lying to federal law enforcement officials about bets on sporting events that he placed with an illegal gambling operation, according to court documents unsealed today. Yasiel Puig Valdes, 31, who currently plays professional baseball in South Korea, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements, a crime that carries a statutory maximum of five years in federal prison. Puig, who formerly played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and two other MLB franchises, has agreed to pay at least $55,000. Puig has agreed to make his initial appearance on November 15 in United States District Court.”

The 31-year-old allegedly began placing bets on multiple sports games through the use of a third-party connected to an illegal gambling company allegedly owned by Wayne Joseph Nix. The player allegedly owed $282,900 in debt to the Nix company as the result of bets that were lost, but continued gambling on other sports after paying back $200,000 of his debt, officials say. When interviewed earlier this year, federal investigators stated that Puig lied multiple times.

The player alleged that he came to know of the third party only through mutual interest in baseball, and that gambling was never discussed between them. However, the investigation into Puig revealed text messages that casted doubt on his claims, according to law enforcement. An audio message from Puig on WhatsApp was found. The message was to an employee of Nix’s company, where Puig allegedly admitting that he made false statements to federal investigators.

“When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix’s gambling business, Mr. Puig chose not to,” IRS criminal investigation special agent Tyler Hatcher said in a statement from the DOJ. “Mr. Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors.”

Puig spent most of his MLB career as a member of the Dodgers. He also spent a season with the Cincinnati Reds and one with the Cleveland Guardians (formerly known as the Cleveland Indians).

Yahoo Sports has more HERE.