Former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig has found himself in some legal hot water.
Per a release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Puig will plead guilty to lying to federal agents who were investigating an illegal gambling operation.
The 31-year-old most recently played for Cleveland in 2019 and currently plays for the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO League. In Puig’s plea agreement, which was filed in August, he admits to placing sports bets with a representative of an illegal gambling business and racking up $282,900 in losses by June of that same year.
Puig sent two $100,000 cashier’s checks to one of the gambling business’ clients.
Agent 1 and another person identified in court papers as “Individual B” instructed Puig to make a check or wire transfer payable to a Nix gambling business client – identified in court papers as “Individual A” – to whom the business owed at least $200,000 in gambling winnings.
On June 25, 2019, Puig withdrew $200,000 from a Bank of America branch in Glendale then purchased two cashiers’ checks for $100,000 each that were made payable to Individual A. Puig did not immediately send the checks due to a dispute over the balance and access to Nix-controlled websites used to place sports bets. Nix refused to allow Puig access to the betting websites until Puig’s gambling debt was paid.
After he was given access to the betting website, he reportedly placed 899 additional bets between July 4 and Sept. 29
Puig later lied to investigators, claiming he hadn’t discussed gambling with the representative, and he denied knowledge of who instructed him to send the checks.
In January 2022, federal investigators interviewed Puig in the presence of his lawyer. During the interview, despite being warned that lying to federal agents is a crime, Puig lied several times. During the interview, he falsely stated that he only knew Agent 1 from baseball and that he never discussed gambling with him, when in fact Puig discussed sports betting with Agent 1 hundreds of times on the telephone and via text message.
After agents showed Puig a copy of one of the cashiers’ checks he purchased on June 25, 2019, Puig falsely stated that he did not know the person who instructed him to send $200,000 in cashiers’ checks to Individual A. Puig also falsely stated that he had placed a bet online with an unknown person on an unknown website that resulted in a loss of $200,000.
Puig later admitted to lying to the investigators in a WhatsApp audio message.
In March 2022, Puig sent Individual B an audio message via WhatsApp in which he admitted to lying to federal agents during the interview two months earlier.
The gambling business in question was run by Wayne Nix, a former minor league pitcher who recruited several former MLB players to work for him as bookies. The illegal operation took bets from multiple active players in addition to Puig.
Nix pled guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for this coming March.
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