Yasiel Puig, a former MLB player, has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal law enforcement officials who were investigating him over allegations of placing bets on sports with an illegal gambling operation.
The 31-year-old ex-LA Dodgers player now plies his trade in South Korea but intends to admit to one count of making false statements as revealed by court documents.
Under his agreement, Puig will pay a fine of at least $55,000 and will appear in a US District Court later today (November 15).
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law,” said US Attorney Martin Estrada. “The integrity of our nation’s criminal justice system depends on people telling the truth, and those who fail to abide by this simple principle must face consequences.”
Former MLB player accused of illegal gambling
Puig has been accused of placing bets on sports via an illegal gambling business, operated by Wayne Joseph Nix, beginning in May 2019, when he had contact through an intermediary identified by court papers as ‘Agent 1’.
Agent 1 and Puig allegedly exchanged text messages and phone calls detailing the bets that Puig would place, with Agent 1 placing them on his behalf. By June 2019, just one month before the activity began, Puig had sustained losses of $282,900 in sports betting.
According to the documents, Puig paid $200,000 to the Nx’s organization via ‘Individual A’, forced by Agent 1 and ‘Individual B’, but subsequently placed a further 899 bets on tennis, football, and basketball fixtures via Nix’s illegal gambling website.
Law enforcement began an investigation in January 2022, when they interviewed Puig.
Puig allegedly lied several times during the interview, claiming that he only knew Agent 1 from baseball and that he never discussed gambling with him. The investigation found Puig discussed sports betting with Agent 1 hundreds of times on the telephone and via text message.
A further falsehood was ascertained when Puig stated that he did not know Individual A, the person who was forcing him to send $200,000 to the illegal gambling business.
“When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix’s Gambling businesses, Mr Puig chose not to,” added IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher.
“Mr Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors.”
In March of this year, it was unearthed that Puig had sent a voice message to Individual B, admitting to lying to law enforcement officials when interviewed.
“Lying to federal agents is a serious offense,” concluded HSI Los Angeles Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “HSI Los Angeles and our partners will actively pursue those that seek to hinder the fair administration of justice.”
Whilst Puig will appear in court later today, Nix, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return in April, will face sentencing in March next year.