Two former Major League Baseball players are focal points of a recent investigation into illegal sports betting. One of them is a former star that may now be headed to jail.
Former Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to charges of lying to federal law enforcement officials. He could face up to five years of prison time.
What happened with Yasiel Puig?
Puig’s plea agreement says he placed hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal sports bets through a third party beginning in 2019. That third party worked for a business run by Wayne Nix, who pled guilty to two charges earlier this year.
The outfielder’s gambling endeavors went horribly. Puig allegedly owed Nix’s business nearly $283,000 after just a few months. This came during a year where he played with both the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians.
In order to pay his debts, Puig withdrew $200,000 by way of two cashiers’ checks. After the debt was paid, Puig used Nix’s illegal website to place nearly 900 more sports bets.
Honesty is the best policy
Puig was interviewed by investigators in January of this year. His testimony included several lies, including that he never discussed sports betting with Nix’s employee.
Unfortunately for the baseball star, the agents had copies of his cashiers’ checks. In addition, when Puig sent a WhatsApp audio message to another Nix associate where he admitted lying to agents during his interview, the feds caught that, too.
In a Department of Justice release discussing the case, United States Attorney Martin Estrada said:
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law. 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.”
What’s next for Puig (and the case)?
Puig will make his initial appearance in court Tuesday. Nix, meanwhile, has a sentencing hearing scheduled for March of 2023.
The case also ensnared former MLB player Erik Hiljus. Hiljus, who pitched in the majors from 1999 through 2002, worked for Nix’s business and will plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns.
Despite their shared MLB experiences, the DOJ says Hiljus did not work with Puig. In addition, while the plea agreement specifies Puig bet on tennis, football and basketball, it says nothing about whether or not the outfielder bet on baseball games.