Ex-an­gels em­ployee charged in over­dose death of Tyler Sk­aggs

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS -

FORT WORTH, Texas — A for­mer Los An­ge­les An­gels em­ployee has been charged with con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute fen­tanyl in con­nec­tion with last year’s over­dose death of pitcher Tyler Sk­aggs, pros­e­cu­tors in Texas an­nounced Fri­day.

Eric Prescott Kay was ar­rested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first ap­pear­ance Fri­day in fed­eral court, ac­cord­ing to

Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. at­tor­ney for the North­ern District of Texas.

Kay was the An­gels’ di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and he served as their pub­lic re­la­tions con­tact on many road trips. He was placed on leave shortly after Sk­aggs’ death, and he never re­turned to the team.

In a state­ment is­sued Fri­day after news of Kay’s court ap­pear­ance, the An­gels said they opened an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Sk­aggs’ death. The team reaf­firmed its po­si­tion that man­age­ment didn’t know Sk­aggs was an opi­oids user and didn’t know any em­ploy­ees were pro­vid­ing drugs to play­ers.

Sk­aggs was found dead in his ho­tel room in the Dal­las area on July 1, 2019, be­fore the start of what was sup­posed to be a fourgame se­ries against the Texas Rangers. The first game was post­poned, and Sk­aggs’ death pro­voked an out­pour­ing of grief across base­ball.

Sk­aggs died after chok­ing on his vomit with a toxic mix of al­co­hol and the pow­er­ful painkiller­s fen­tanyl and oxy­codone in his sys­tem, a coro­ner’s re­port said. Pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused Kay of pro­vid­ing the fen­tanyl to Sk­aggs and oth­ers, who were not named.

“Tyler Sk­aggs’s over­dose – com­ing, as it did, in the midst of an as­cen­dant base­ball ca­reer – should be a wake-up call: No one is im­mune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a pow­der or hid­den in­side an in­nocu­ous-look­ing tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If con­victed, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Fed­eral court records do not list an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing him, and an at­tor­ney who pre­vi­ously spoke on his be­half did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

The An­gels’ state­ment said the team has “fully co­op­er­ated with law en­force­ment and

Ma­jor League Base­ball. Ad­di­tion­ally, in or­der to com­pre­hen­sively un­der­stand the cir­cum­stances that led to his death, we hired a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We learned that there was un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior in­con­sis­tent with our code of con­duct, and we took steps to ad­dress it. Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion also con­firmed that no one in man­age­ment was aware, or in­formed, of any em­ployee pro­vid­ing opi­oids to any player, nor that Tyler was us­ing opi­oids.”

Sk­aggs died 12 days be­fore his 28th birthday. The Santa Mon­ica na­tive was drafted by the An­gels in 2009 and later traded to Ari­zona, where he played his first two ma­jor league sea­sons be­fore re­turn­ing to the An­gels in an­other trade in late 2013.

Rusty Hardin, the Texas at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Sk­aggs’ fam­ily, is­sued a state­ment after Kay’s ar­rest and court ap­pear­ance.

“The fam­ily is deeply heart­bro­ken to learn that Tyler would be alive to­day were it not for a pill con­tain­ing fen­tanyl that was pro­vided by the Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of the An­gels,” Hardin said. “We note that the An­gels say they com­mis­sioned an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion that con­cluded no one in man­age­ment was aware that a team em­ployee was sup­ply­ing il­le­gal drugs to Tyler. We en­cour­age the An­gels to make that re­port pub­lic.

“We are re­lieved that no one else who was sup­plied drugs by this An­gels ex­ec­u­tive met the same fate as Tyler. While noth­ing will re­place the loss of Tyler, we are very grate­ful to fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors for their dili­gent and on­go­ing work.”

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